We all live in a peaceful, stable country. As Canadians we often take our current way of life for granted, such as our freedom to participate in religious, cultural, or political events and our right to live under a democratic government. War is a foreign concept. Many of us can’t imagine having to serve in a war, even starting as young as 17. Nor can we contemplate seeing our loved ones leave and not return home for years- or ever again. In our modern society, one that is obsessed with technology and convenience, I wanted to remind everyone that Remembrance Day is more than just stopping at 11:00 am for a moment of silence. It’s about remembering. It’s about unity. It’s about respect.
What would life be like if these soldiers had not fought for our freedom?
As the number of surviving veterans from the World Wars diminishes, it is important for our generation to remember their sacrifice. Back then, a soldier’s duty was sacred – a soldier did whatever needed to be done for his country. World War I centered on trench warfare: all men aged 20-45 were conscripted, combat was face-to-face, and living conditions were frozen and unbearable. These soldiers had no idea what they were in for. This was a war they thought would be over by Christmas. These men and women had faith in the future and it is through their devotion that we continue to preserve peace for oncoming generations.
However, Remembrance Day is not only about remembering veterans.
There have been many other numerous battles that soldiers have participated in: World War II, The Korean War, The Vietnamese War, Gulf War, Yugoslav Wars, Somali Civil War, Afghanistan War, and The War on Iraq.
Let’s not forget that there are still approximately 1000 soldiers stationed in Kabul, Afghanistan. Since 2001, 158 Canadian military personnel have died in Afghanistan, more than any conflict since the Korean War. The nature of these deaths has largely been attributed to suicide bombings.
We are considerably lucky. There are young people in Kabul, exactly like us, who do not know what peace looks like. They have never known a world without gun shots and the continuous dropping of bombs. We take it for granted. I have never reflected on the importance of the ability to walk around and feel safe. Peace of mind. This absence of fear is something we should be grateful for.
It is an important part of our identity, not only as Canadians but as people, to remember those that have lost their lives for the sake of freedom; to remember those who risk their lives with irrefutable bravery in the face of adversity; to remember those who leave all that they’ve ever known behind for hope in the future.
These men and women deserve not to be forgotten.