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Put peace first

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This year, we are saying goodbye to a much-loved tradition and starting a new one.

Whistler's Cenotaph, formerly located in the parking lot of Firehall No.1 in the village, has moved to Whistler Olympic Plaza. At its new location, the Cenotaph will allow our community to not only celebrate Remembrance Day, Nov. 11, but also pause and consider year-round those who have fallen and veterans everywhere who serve to keep us free.

As you will read in this week's feature, the Cenotaph's move comes thanks to a grassroots movement by many and championed by a few, including former Citizen of the Year Anne Townley and Pique's own G.D. Maxwell.

Quietly working in the background, as he has for many years, Remembrance Day organizer Brian Buchholz had long realized that the firehall location was becoming problematic as more and more people began to take part.

The event had grown from those early days in the early '80s when just a few dedicated souls commemorated the day to a celebration that draws hundreds.

No doubt this Remembrance Day will be a bit bittersweet — after all, it is the celebration of a community achievement as well as the farewell to a space that holds decades of memories.

(Let me just offer my deep appreciation for all Brian has done over the years. Not only are his remarks on the day always poignant and heartfelt, he also manages to treat it and all those who attend with a measure of both compassion and dignity — from the youngest child to our oldest vets and community members. He has helped make the day one of the community's most cherished events.)

As we head into this Remembrance Day, we do so understanding that conflict continues to rage around the world.

The 2017 Global Peace Index (GPI) "shows that amidst continuing social and political turmoil, the world continues to spend enormous resources on creating and containing violence but very little on peace."

However, it should be noted that according to the GPI, the world was more peaceful in 2017.

Am I the only one who doesn't feel it?

This week, the headlines were once again captured by a mass shooting, this time at a church in Texas that claimed 26 lives — some of them children and youth.

Those of us who have never served understand war in an abstract way, or perhaps more fully if we have had loved ones share their stories.

But all of us are beginning to understand that war is not confined to a battlefield anymore. In some ways, it feels like war has come to us where we live.

Locals post on social media that they were just walking or biking or visiting a site that later saw a terrorist attack, such as the one that just occurred in New York where a man rented a truck and mowed down cyclists. Others post concerns about a long-awaited chance to travel wondering aloud if the trip is worth the risk.

It is welcome news to read that the GPI has found the world a more peaceful place — one can only hope that it is a trend that will continue.

But the words on the page of the report do little to alleviate the sense of unknown threat that many nations of the world and their citizens are facing.

No one is arguing that this sense of unease equates in any way to the experience of actually being in battle, but few would argue that those who are victims of these mass terror attacks are any less the fallen in a war.

As we stand together this Remembrance Day, it is more important than ever that we imagine a world where peace and harmony are the subjects of the talk our global leaders have, rather than the sabre rattling all too common at the moment.

Each of us can play a part by being welcoming, non-judgmental, open-minded and fair.

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