Let’s acknowledge them in our daily lives
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.