Regardless of the branch of service, army, navy, air force, marines, coast guard, or merchant marine, we belong to a unique club – we are Warriors.
Once a warrior, always a warrior. You carry with you the lessons and commitments of a lifetime. When you have worn the uniform of your country, you are changed in a way that is hard for others to understand. You have become a warrior and only another warrior knows the drill.
The only difference between warrior and civilians is that we never lose our obligation to the oath we swore to our county and our flag. We would get up tomorrow and be in some place without running water and under hostile fire without a second thought. It doesn’t matter how old you are … you would go.
Remembrance Day is the day when we remember all those who served before us and those who served with us; we pray for those who serve today and will serve in the future. There isn’t a warrior anywhere in the world that wishes on their children the events that have shaped their life.
When I was in school, we were taught that World War I was going to be the ‘war that ended all wars’. In hindsight, it was nothing but a pipe dream. Canada lost an entire generation of young people to the fighting fields of Europe. Canada lost 66,665 young men on the fighting fields of Europe during ‘the Great War’. There was nothing great about it It was just the start. Canada’s contribution: World War II – 46,998, Korea – 576, Peacekeeping – 121, and today’s war, Afghanistan – 152.
In the general scheme of things, Canada is a small country in terms of population, less than 35 million. We are perceived to be the world’s mildest people but never should anyone ever consider us to be without courage and a spine. After World War II, Canadians stepped into the role of the world’s first peacekeepers. Under the auspices of the UN, we have sent our soldiers to some of the most inhospitable places on this planet under the most ridiculous of constraints. Can you imagine being told to stand guard without real rounds in your rifle?
Today, I will remember everyone who has worn a uniform with honour and distinction: They have all paid the ultimate sacrifice. We have an obligation to those who returned, because their wounds aren’t always visible. We owe our respect and honour to all our warriors.
Today, will you stop and remember? I wonder why people refuse to observe a minute of silence at 11:00 a.m. on the 11th day of the 11th month. It is the hour that the Armistice was signed that ended the bloodiest war of a generation.
Terry Kelly wrote the following song after observing a father acting like a moron in a drugstore in Nova Scotia. He says it much better and more eloquently than I can. Listen and be assured that others are watching and this is one of life’s great learning moments.
At 11:00 a.m., stop, remember and give thanks. If you are in Canada, you are one of the luckiest people on the planet. Be grateful for what you have.