We say we will always honour their memories and never forget but do we really?
Within a couple of hours of ‘remembering’ Nov. 11 — the day on which Canadians salute those who’ve served with or died fighting for the Canadian Forces, our lives quickly return to normal and in most cases we put it to rest until the next year.
I had the privilege of speaking with a few children this year and was curious to learn if another generation would still hold Nov. 11 as dear to their hearts as previous generations have.
Each year veterans voice concern about the efforts and sacrifices they have made to ensure our freedom in Canada will be lost but I’m happy and relieved to say that I have found quite the opposite. Thanks to wonderful teachers, family and modern technology (aka Twitter), our young Canadians are quite mindful of how their freedom was earned.
Seven-year-old Jackson told me that "some of my friends think veterans are only my great-grampa’s age or older but I know for sure they are my Dad’s age because my uncle just came home from Afghanistan.
"When my Dad and I went to the airport to greet him, my Dad started crying. I got a little scared and asked why he was sad and my Dad said they were happy tears because Uncle Rick helped save people from dying and he was very proud."
My father’s favourite place to go for lunch is the Royal Canadian Legion, St. James Branch No. 4. In fact, this institution is so important to my father that my brother and I have become members. And they make a mean cheeseburger.
While doing some research for this story I invited my Dad to join me for lunch there. This Legion branch is 87 years old and my father is 82. Both are full of history.
After joining the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) at 19, Dad flew F-86 Sabre jets and is still a proud member of the Sabre Pilots Association Air Squadron. I always thought my Dad was some kind of celebrity whenever we moved somewhere new (which was a lot) because of how he was treated and I loved the shiny ‘wings’ pin on his uniform. Dad never went to war (for which I’m so very thankful as are my Mom and brother) but every minute of every day he is my hero. He was more than ready to sacrifice for our freedom and our military today are no different.
So, even though Nov. 11, 2014 is very far away and the poppies have been removed from our coats, keep the active military and veterans in your mind and your hearts and if you feel so inclined, drop by any Legion for a cold beer and say hi to one of our veterans, who are enjoying a cup of coffee or cold beverage and some much deserved rest.
Saying thank you for our freedom wouldn’t hurt either.
Virginia Sperl is a Silver Heights-based writer.