Thursday, November 10, 2011
How do you spend that moment of silence? Your answer is a gut check for our entire country.
Every year, as Remembrance Day approaches, we hear the unfortunate reports from across Canada. The boors who have no appreciation for our vets.
As a nation, we all feel outraged when we hear about memorials getting vandalized, or when some lowlife steals poppy collection boxes for a few toonies and loonies.
But when the true importance of Remembrance Day is forgotten in more subtle ways, it is far more disturbing. When a bar in Calgary, or a student group in New Brunswick, advertises Nov. 10 booze-it-up “forget-fests,” little cracks form in our national foundation.
Much bigger cracks form when school administrators in Ottawa, who are responsible for passing on the memory of our vets, decide to cancel a Remembrance Day symposium, hiding behind a flimsy “no tanks or guns” policy. We need to do our part before those cracks grow and multiply and become vast chasms.
History forgotten is bound to repeat itself, as the saying goes. We cannot allow the lives of so many to have been sacrificed in vain. It bears eternal repeating that our vets made possible the very freedoms we hold so dear today. Their commitment to Canada defined us as a nation.
Brave Canadian soldiers have proven themselves time and again that our men and women in uniform are among the best in the world, and always have been. We should all take great pride in what they accomplished and continue to achieve.
Since the Second World War, Canadians have served with distinction in countless international operations, including Korea, the Gulf War, Kosovo, Cyprus, Bosnia, Afghanistan and Libya. I could go on at length.
The world has been spared from so much tyranny because of our soldiers and their families, who have provided so much support from the home front. For most of us, a veteran has always been a parent or a grandparent. A 20-year-old soldier who enlisted in 1941 is now 90 years old. We cannot allow their memory to dwindle with their numbers.
A new, younger generation of vets has returned from the battlefields of Afghanistan. Fewer in number, but no less important. Our new vets deserve just as much praise as our older vets.
The torch of freedom is there for all of us to bear. Far too many Canadians stick a poppy over their heart and keep mum for that moment. The memory of our vets is then quickly forgotten for another year.
I challenge each and every one of you to do just a little more. To take an extra moment or two to learn something new about the vets that defined our nation.
Veterans Affairs Canada has recorded more than 1,500 hours of conversations with Canadian vets. Listening to just a few words will keep those memories alive. Go to: www.veterans.gc.ca/eng.
The Dominion Institute’s Memory Project holds an online database of veteran stories. Take the time to read them with your family. (www.thememoryproject.com).
When you see a veteran selling poppies at the local grocery store, strike up a conversation to hear their story. Take a moment to let them know your appreciation. Tell them that their sacrifice will never be forgotten. You’ll be doing your part to keep Canada’s foundation strong.
It’s Canadian common sense.