Today is Remembrance Day, our day to reflect and remember Canadians that have been lost in armed conflicts around the world and across history. Please take a moment today to sit and think about the way the world could have been without our brave men and women who fought for our freedom and that of other nations in need.
It was instilled upon me at an early age the importance of this day, even though no one in my immediate family has any military background. I’m told my grandfather was somehow involved with training soldiers for World War II, but other than that I can’t recall any family stories of military service. Still, I was taught to remember and respect, and to never ever forget.
I had the honour of visiting Normandy in 2004, the year of the 60th anniversary of the D-Day invasions. I was with a group of American tourists, so we visited the American memorial at Omaha beach and not our Canadian site at Juno, but it didn’t matter. I was awestruck at it all. The waste, the idiocy, the lunacy of it all. Row upon row of identical plain white gravemarkers where countless young men laid down their lives to liberate Europe.
Standing on the cliffs at Omaha Beach, you realize the sickening advantage that the enemy had when our boys landed on the beaches: looking down upon miles upon miles of unprotected, sandy beach from towering cliffs, bunkers, and fortifications. Where our men got the bravery, and the sheer audacity of the invasion of Normandy is mind-boggling.
It’s not as easy to think back on more recent conflicts with the same sense of duty and necessity that accompanied World War I and II; the battle lines are less clear, right or wrong less certain. However we must remember that anyone who gives their life for their country – no matter what the cause – demands our respect, and demands our Remembrance.
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