Let’s ac­knowl­edge them in our daily lives

Tri-County Vanguard - - OP-ED - Kristy Her­ron

At the 11th hour of the 11th day a cen­tury ago the guns fell silent in the fields of Europe, mark­ing the end of the ‘war to end all wars’.

But that was not to be the case for in less than 30 years from then, the world was again en­gaged in a global con­flict. Yet again our cit­i­zens will­ingly ac­cepted the call to serve, pro­tect, and sac­ri­fice to pre­serve the safety and val­ues of our na­tion. This com­mit­ment by ded­i­cated valiant in­di­vid­u­als con­tin­ues to this day.

We have a new gen­er­a­tion of com­bat vet­er­ans among us. These men and women are fight­ing forces that have far more tech­nol­ogy and ca­pac­i­ties than we had in our 20th cen­tury wars. How­ever, the de­struc­tion and may­hem that is part of mil­i­tary ac­tions is as dev­as­tat­ing as it al­ways was, and it con­tin­ues. Lives lost, cit­i­zens dis­placed, fair­ness and jus­tice sub­verted are still an un­for­tu­nate re­al­ity. We again have a world lost in tor­ment, prej­u­dice vi­o­lence and mis­guided dogma which are threat­en­ing lives and fu­tures.

Yet we still have count­less ded­i­cated souls who take up this chal­lenge be­cause they want to make it pos­si­ble for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions to have a world where they can live freely, se­cure in their per­sonal safety, re­spected and nur­tured. They are the mem­bers of our armed forces, our law en­force­ment en­ti­ties, both RCMP and mu­nic­i­pal units, our se­cu­rity agen­cies, in­clud­ing the Corps of Com­mis­sion­aires, paramedics and vol­un­teers who serve like our firefighters as well as search and res­cue. Daily, they put their lives on the line for our safety and well-be­ing. Rec­og­niz­ing our cur­rent guardians does not in any way min­i­mize the con­tri­bu­tions of those who fought in so many con­flicts for our free­dom, jus­tice or se­cu­rity – it is just a mea­sure of re­spect for the self­less acts of so many who do what they do for the greater good.

Some of our older vet­er­ans who gave so much of them­selves re­late that in a way they find it dis­cour­ag­ing to see the world in such up­heaval. Yet, they did their part and paid dearly, just as our he­roes of to­day. They were on the front lines and we owe them greatly.

The gaunt­let has been passed to a new gen­er­a­tion, but not with­out the ghosts of the past re­mind­ing us of our du­ties and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. Those cit­i­zens who take on pro­tec­tive roles in risky ser­vice for oth­ers need our re­spect, sup­port and un­der­stand­ing. The work they do is ar­du­ous, de­mand­ing and life al­ter­ing.

Ar­mistice Day, as it was ini­tially called, was al­ways a solemn oc­ca­sion in our home. So many of my fam­ily and ex­tended fam­ily served and some still serve in many ca­pac­i­ties. My highly dec­o­rated Great Un­cle who served at Vimy rarely shared his mem­o­ries but did share some of them with me. The same is true for my ma­ter­nal grand­mother’s broth­ers who spent World War II in Hong Kong as they were RCR. My fa­ther’s broth­ers who served in Europe again rarely spoke to any of us. How­ever, they would all gather at their lo­cal Royal Cana­dian Le­gions where they did share with com­rades as there, they knew that they would be more fully un­der­stood.

We who have not par­tic­i­pated can only em­pathize and sup­port. How­ever, we can also in con­crete ways demon­strate that their con­tri­bu­tions mat­ter – not just by at­tend­ing a ser­vice once a year, but by ac­knowl­edg­ing them in our daily lives.

A smile, a few kind words as well as mak­ing time to lis­ten and un­der­stand.

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