As we prepare to converge on our local branch of the Royal Canadian Legion for this year’s Cenotaph Ceremony of Remembrance, I find myself thinking about the many sacrifices thousands of men and women have made to protect the freedom and honour of our country. By extension, thousands of families have made a similar sacrifice, giving up the comfort of having their father, mother, brother, sister, son, daughter, husband or wife near to them. They have spent countless hours wondering and worrying, loathe to receive that unwanted message stating that the ultimate sacrifice has been given by their cherished family member.
Many Canadians express their patriotism as November 11th nears, but our soldiers, past and present, do not have the luxury of remembering the fallen at an annual ceremony. They live those battles and conflicts daily, whether they are still on the front line or haunted by the darkness or wars past. I find it ironic, as the Government of Canada strives to make detrimental changes to our Veterans’ pensions for retired and/or wounded soldiers, they flood the airwaves with advertisements telling us to make Remembrance Day something more than just something we do, to make the day something more than what we feel. A call to action, if it were. Yet here we have the Government wanting to treat our Veterans in a manner which they certainly do not deserve. These men and women deserve the utmost of honour, courtesy and support; they should not have to continue fighting the Government they served in order to maintain a reasonable lifestyle when their duty is done – whether they have retired in full physical health or not – whether they have served overseas or not, they are still our military veterans, and the Government of Canada needs to step up and make some huge improvements in Veterans Affairs. Do not sell Canadian citizens on the ideals of honouring our soldiers, only to turn around and treat them with dishonour behind the closed doors of a bureaucratic office.
Equally despicable is the car thief who made off with a car in New Westminster, leaving the Seaforth Highlanders searching for and hoping that their Regimental Mace will be returned to them – intact. I hope that those of you reading this will make use of your contacts network, and maybe someone, somewhere, will know something and the Mace can be returned. (see the full story here in the Province).
And then there is the Royal Canadian Mint, whose graphic artists can’t seem to wrap their heads around the importance and patriotism of our Highway of Heroes, declaring that the task is proving very difficult to translate into a coin design. Fine – they can’t do it, open up the design process to the general public. I am sure that somewhere in this big country is a designer who can articulate the overwhelming show of respect shown to our fallen by members of the fire and police departments, along with the growing numbers of ordinary citizens who line the highway to honour not only the soldiers on their final journey home, but also their families.
But then there are the positives – those who come home safe, and those who pick up the task of supporting our soldiers and their families long after their time on the front has ended. These organizations work hard, raising the money to send children to school, to provide medical treatment and support for our wounded, and to keep the memories of our soldiers alive, passing on the priceless knowledge and experience that can only be shared by one who has been there.
Please take the time to support those who say nothing is too difficult to help our soldiers and their families. Support the Canadian Hero Fund in their 11 for 11 drive, which will help send the children of soldiers to school. Support Wounded Warriors, The Royal Canadian Legion, and the True Patriot Love Foundation, the Canadian Military Families Fund and Boomer’s Legacy, who all work tirelessly to help those in need.
Buy the music produced by Canadian artists, who gave of their time and talents to create songs whose monetary proceeds support organizations like those mentioned above. Here are only a few of the songs out there whose sales help our military families:
The Trews – Highway of Heroes
Basia Lyjak – Waiting
Julian Austin – The Red and The White
Canada’s Country Artists – Standing Strong and True
And most importantly of all, please thank a soldier.