Remembrance Day from a veteran’s perspective
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 09/11/2018 (1592 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
In Canada, Remembrance Day means different things for different people. For some, it evokes memories of family members in the Canadian Forces. For others, Nov. 11 is a statutory holiday used for sleeping in and relaxing.
Dwight Smith, a Canadian Forces veteran, says he notices that people generally don’t pay much attention to Remembrance Day – but he still does.
“We’ve been at peace for so long, and our army is so small, it doesn’t affect as many people as it used to,” Smith says.
Despite this, he says that when he’s in uniform now, he’s respected more than in the past.
Smith says he remembers being in a parade years ago and being yelled at by university students. They called him and his fellow soldiers baby-killers, and they shouted for the soldiers to lay down their guns.
“It’s like ‘Really? You guys have no idea,’” Smith says.
More recently, Smith recalls stopping at a gas station in uniform, and being saluted by a young man.
“I thought he was making fun of me,” Smith says. “But he says, ‘no, I want to shake your hand, I want to thank you.’”
Smith says that because Canadians have not felt the impact of war at home, it’s easy to skip the Remembrance Day service and go shopping instead.
For Smith, Remembrance Day means attending a service, then going to a Legion to meet with other veterans and share war stories.
“For some people, (war) is a nightmare they don’t want to remember,” Smith says. “I was fortunate.”
Smith was part of United Nations peacekeeping tours in Croatia and Golan Heights. He says going overseas was a culture shock.
While on his tour of duty, Smith had to watch where he walked and drove, because land mines were everywhere.
“You learn, you know,” Smith says.
“There’s a helmet in the ditch, just sitting there. It’s there to entice someone to go look underneath, but you know there’s a mine. It’s sitting right there for souvenir hunters.”
Smith says that, after coming back to Canada from the peacekeeping missions, he saw how much Canadians take for granted.
He adds that he takes things for granted too, like being able to walk around without worry of stepping on a mine.
But Remembrance Day is different. On Nov. 11, Smith puts on his uniform and shares stories of his years in the forces.
Gabrielle Piché is a community correspondent for Headingley and her. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Gabby is a big fan of people, writing and learning. She graduated from Red River College’s Creative Communications program in the spring of 2020.