Why it’s im­por­tant to re­mem­ber

The Packet (Clarenville) - - Editorial -

It’s that time of year again, when we look around and no­tice pop­pies wher­ever we go. We often think of a Vet­eran as an older gen­tle­man who fought decades ago in a for­eign war. While this par­tic­u­lar anal­ogy is true, they’re not the only Vet­er­ans. Vet­eran’s Af­fairs Canada con­sid­ers any­one who re­leases with an honourable dis­charge and suc­cess­fully com­pleted ba­sic train­ing to be a Vet­eran.

Canada as a na­tion has been in the fore­front of peace keep­ing op­er­a­tions, the war on ter­ror, and po­lit­i­cal up­ris­ings over the past num­ber of decades. Most re­cently we sup­ported NATO missions in Afghanistan as a re­sponse to 9/11, and Libya and other Mid­dle East­ern na­tions dur­ing the Arab Spring. To com­pli­ment the older gen­tle­man, we now see young women and men, many their 20’s who fit the def­i­ni­tion of Vet­eran.

I’m a proud Vet­eran, hav­ing served as a Marine Sys­tems En­gi­neer­ing Of­fi­cer in the Royal Cana­dian Navy (RCN) for 14 years. I served in Afghanistan and the coast of Libya be­fore my 30th birth­day. Both de­ploy­ments came as a sur­prise, but I’m glad I had the op­por­tu­nity to serve. It’s given me a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive on many as­pects of life and the word around us.

As an of­fi­cer in the RCN I never

thought I’d be de­ployed to a land­locked coun­try like Afghanistan. This be­came a re­al­ity in the sum­mer of 2009 when I was called up to my Com­man­der’s of­fice and told I would be de­ploy­ing. I was a unit re­place­ment for a col­league who was screened out. With three weeks of train­ing un­der my belt, I was off to Kan­da­har for my six month de­ploy­ment, not know­ing what my job would be. I ended up work­ing as the In­ter­preter Co­or­di­na­tor for Re­gional Com­mand (South), where I would man­age the In­ter­preter re­sources that we had.

For any­one who has de­ployed to Afghanistan, they would be fa­mil­iar with a quick stop at Camp Mi­rage in Dubai, be­fore head­ing

to the theatre of war. Soon af­ter my ar­rival at Mi­rage I got my first bit­ter taste of war. At 3 a.m., on the Mi­rage tar­mac, dozens of us fell in and somberly re­flected as Cor­po­ral Jonathan Joseph Syl­vain Cou­turier (age 23) was marched into an empty cargo plane for his lonely jour­ney home. Many peo­ple from var­i­ous coun­tries paid the supreme sac­ri­fice dur­ing my de­ploy­ment. In­clud­ing 10 Cana­dian soldiers — young men and women who sadly left their young fam­i­lies be­hind.

The mo­ment of si­lence dur­ing a Re­mem­brance Day cer­e­mony means dif­fer­ent things to dif­fer­ent peo­ple. I used to think about my Grand­fa­ther Archelaus King, who served with the Royal Navy dur­ing WWI. These days I think about those who lost their life while I was de­ployed; those who came back in body, but never quite re­turned the same per­son.

Re­mem­brance day is a sign of re­spect for their fight for free­dom, peace, and pros­per­ity. I en­cour­age ev­ery­one to at­tend a Re­mem­brance Day cer­e­mony and sup­port the Poppy Fund, as all pro­ceeds aid Vet­er­ans and their fam­i­lies. Lest We For­get.

Neil King, Lib. MHA for Bon­av­ista

Bon­av­ista MHA Neil King

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