Friday, November 11, 2011
Remembrance Day is important to me. I'm not a religious person so today trumps even Christmas. As a Canadian I am free to travel with little restriction to many places in the world. For this I am ever thankful. I've had the opportunity to travel to many places significant in past conflicts and the older I get the more important I find this day.
This year I attended services in my home town with a close friend and colleague along with some friends of hers one of which is a British military veteran. This year being the first year in 10 where Canadian troops have not been on the front lines was particularly memorable. I found myself moved to tears several times during the service knowing that the freedoms I enjoy everyday are the direct result of the efforts of many of those in attendance along with those who have given their lives and the men and women who are currently deployed in places such as Afghanistan.
Our local service was followed by a shorter version at 11 o'clock at the local cenotaph where we heard The Last Post again and another 2 minute silence was observed. To conclude the service one of our veterans read this article which I must confess I did not wholly agree with. It's entitled "The country the world forgot - again". Now I understand us Canadians despite being proud aren't always concerned with taking credit even if it's due. I also understand that our military and peacekeeping contributions in many conflicts have been sizable as well and that is not always recognized. Add to that the issue of our national identity being lumped in with that of our neighbors to the south and it might be true that we as Canadians are often forgotten. My issue with this article however being read at Remembrance Day services had to do with a couple of comments within the article that to me seemed to take shots at the British and the Americans. Today is not the day to disparage our allies of all people. They too have given and continue to sacrifice lives to gain and protect the freedoms that we hold dear. As I stood along side my friend and her friend in his British military uniform I cringed as I listened to one of our Canadian vets read this passage including these criticisms. I found that I felt quite offended. I'm sure no offence was intended, and certain parts of the article were apt but in its entirety it felt inappropriate. The service concluded on this note and on the walk home I felt compelled to seek out this article and read it for myself. I was somewhat surprised to find that it had been written by someone in England in 2002 in response to Canada's involvement in Afghanistan.
In truth my experience today reinforced that today is not only a day to recognize my own country's contributions to conflict past and present but also to honour all men and women around the world who pay the price for freedom with their blood, sweat and tears. All those around the world who fight in the name of the freedoms we take for granted deserve our gratitude today and everyday.
Lest we forget.
Last year I wrote about some of the sites I visited in Europe that were touched by war. Read my blog post from last November 11 here.