To me, Remembrance Day is one of the most important days of the year.
It is a day that, in case we haven’t been doing it all year long, we take the time to pay tribute to those people who have fought and died for our freedom. It is a day where we are told the heroic stories of the battles our men, women, and children fought in by the people who were fortunate enough to live through them. It is a day that we are reminded how lucky we are to live in a country as free as Canada.
In Brant, we have a very active military presence that helps every generation remember the efforts of Canadians in both the First and Second World War. Brant possesses an excellent collection of historic sites, museums, monuments, and archives that preserve our military history like few other communities in the country. Our World War Two veterans are engaged in programs in our schools, and community events like the Thank-A-Vet luncheon give us unprecedented access to those who fought so valiantly.
With no slight to those who will once again pay their respect to this group of war veterans, I find myself concerned about another group of war veterans. These are the veterans who fought for Canada in the hopes of helping other countries earn the freedoms that we hold dear to us. These are the veterans of the wars in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Bosnia, Rwanda, Afghanistan, Libya, and so many others.
Like so many in my generation, I have had friends and colleagues fight, and die, in some of the world’s most recent wars. They have proudly worn our country’s uniform in battle, protecting the lives and freedoms of people in countries they had never been to, for cultures they’ve known little about, in conflicts they don’t always entirely understand. They have done this to serve their country in the hopes of creating a world where we all can live. In doing so, they have become OUR heroes.
I remember hearing my grandmother tell me how the Legion’s had become the place where veterans could gather and find the support they needed to manage the stresses of life post-war. A place where they could go and be amongst others who understood what each had been through. Move to 2011, where such a comparatively small percentage of our community has gone off to war, and I wonder where the support system lies for today’s veterans. But not just the veterans, but the families of the veterans; they too need a system of support to understand the pain and suffering of war so that they can help their family deal with the memories.
There are community, provincial, and national organizations that provide different types of support for our veterans and their families. But perhaps the support our veterans need the most, the friendly faces that know just what they’ve encountered in the throes of war, may not be readily available. So we must ask, what else needs to be done?
For me, it begins with creating an atmosphere of inclusion, and respect. Not just at a community level, but at a societal level. We must ensure that no veteran who wears the uniform of our country is EVER left behind. We need to make sure that their commitment to the protection of freedom around the world is recognized and regarded in high standing.
So here’s the part of this I don’t like. I don’t know how we do this. There are some great people who are working hard in this community to make sure that veterans and their families are given the support they need. There are people like Pat Cooke, who gives her time to operate the 56 Field Regiment Family Support Group in Brantford, an organization that Canadian Forces families can connect with other CF families during deployment. People like Pat, and other friends and family of our soldiers, work tirelessly to provide awareness about the needs of our military personnel. They need our help to provide for our veterans, and we need to find more ways to help make sure every member of the Canadian Forces is supported by the community.
This Remembrance Day, and every other day of the year, I hope you too will remember the sacrifices of our brave Canadian soldiers. Remember their sacrifice, but more importantly, remember the people.