November 11 – a day to remember and to reflect

Saturday is November 11, which is Remembrance Day. Exactly 105 years ago to the day, the armistice signed at Le Francport near Compiègne in France brought to an end over four years of the horrific fighting on land, sea and air known as World War I. As for World War II and the Korean War, they ended, respectively 78 and 70 years ago. The aftermath of each accounts for devastating loss of life, displacement, physical and mental disability, emotional and spiritual hardship, as well as economic fragility. Lest we forget, before and after the aforementioned wars, significant others and major armed conflicts have occurred around the globe. In fact, ongoing wars are affecting directly more than thirty countries. These have created and continue to create an impossible-to-reconcile toll on society. For example, at the end of 2022, as reported by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, war has caused one in every 74 people on Earth to flee their homes. This represents a staggering 110 million individuals displaced worldwide, without counting the people who have perished and the impact on their families and future generations.

I would like us to recognize that we all remember differently. We may be young or older. We may share lived experiences or have family history passed down in stories, photographs, medals, or through unanswered questions about memories too traumatic to relive. We may live in a relatively safe country, but the scars that mar the world’s landscape, from natural resources to flattened homes and infrastructure, or change the DNA of less fortunate loved ones, do not escape us. There is fear and searing pain, but also courage, hope and resilience. There is brutality, but also compassion, love and empathy.

On the front lines of conflict or here at home, as healthcare providers, today and throughout our hospitals’ history of service, we play a vital role as healers. We volunteer, join forces, train others, support peace, provide comfort, help with recovery, and do what we can to make a difference because every life is precious.

Whatever our personal experience is with war and armed conflict, Remembrance Day is an opportunity to reflect on the past and on the present. On November 11, please pause for a minute of silence and remember. We are healers, and every life is precious. 


Lucie Opatrny, MD MHCM M.Sc.
President and Executive Director, MUHC