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Remembrance Day 2014

Monday, November 10, 2014   by: Mac Headrick

There will be no talk of politics in today’s column. I consider Remembrance Day be the most significant day of the year relative to the rights l have as a Canadian. It is because of personal sacrifices by Canadians who have served in our military that we enjoy the freedoms we have today. Among our privileges is the ability to debate on public issues of the day without fear of reprisals. Today Canadians will pause to honour the approximately 120,000 men and women who have given their lives in two world wars, the Korean conflict, the Boer War, Afghanistan and various other peace keeping missions throughout the world.This year Remembrance Day will be very poignant due to the tragic lost of Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent and Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, who were killed on the home front. The Canadian Legion has predicted over 80,000 people will attend services at the National War Memorial in Ottawa.

It was over twenty-seven years ago that November 11th was cancelled as a school holiday. I believe this has been a positive situation for our youth. All over Canada, Remembrance Day ceremonies will be held in our schools. Students will be given the opportunity to reflect and participate in remembering those who sacrificed so much to shape Canada as a nation. I realize that younger children may not at this time appreciate the significance of November 11, and even some of the senior students might struggle to understand the purpose behind Remembrance Day. I believe by giving them the opportunity to participate in these ceremonies that, in time, they will appreciate the significance of November 11th. I can appreciate the desire of all the political parties to have Remembrance Day as a national holiday. I hope this decision will not prevent the important recognition of this day to our youth.

Thankfully it has been some time since Canada has been involved in a world war. Our Canadian military is still called upon to provide security in many dangerous conflicts. Military spending does not have the political payoff of spending on health care or education etc. To me it is a very simple decision. If Canada can afford to annually spend a hundred million dollar to support the Senate then we should be able to properly equip and pay our Canadian military personnel.

There is a way we can honour all the men and women who have served (and continue to serve) in the Canadian military. It costs nothing and takes but a few minutes every two years or so. It is called “voting”. It doesn’t matter if it is a civic, provincial or federal election. It even doesn’t matter what political party or individual you choose. The right to vote freely is a wonderful example of the rights and privileges we enjoy as Canadians. We must never forget this freedom came at a great cost. Unfortunately as the recent civic election demonstrated, Canadians appear to put less value on the right to vote as previous generations. Perhaps there is a positive spin to the political apathy in Canada. Could it be that our democratic traditions are so well established that Canadians feel there is little need to participate? I realize l am “grasping at straws” here. Having the right to determine our political future also implies Canadians may choose not to participate.

I attended the Remembrance Day service held at White Pines two years ago. It was a very moving service. In attendance were several military veterans and present military soldiers. I personally felt privileged and humbled to be in their presence. The staff and students at White Pines who put together this presentation are to be commended. They presented the perfect combination of music, dance and speeches to honour our veterans.

At one point in the service one of the veterans took a moment to highlight a significant problem facing some soldiers after serving our country. There continues to be significant operation stress injuries experienced by Canadian military personnel. At the end of the veteran’s talk it became apparent he was speaking of his own personal experience. It was a very poignant moment in the service. Canadians need to understand combat injuries are not just of a physical nature. 

In the opening paragraph to today’s column I stated there would be no discussion on recent political events. Next week I will outline my expectations of our new Mayor. Readers of this column will either agree or disagree with my point of view. We will perform this activity without fear of retaliation. We have and enjoy the freedom of expression. We do not give this right a second thought.    

To the past and present members of the Canadian Military, l salute you. You have always been (and continue to be) ready to make the ultimate sacrifice. I pray that our military men and women can be returning home from the Afghanistan conflict in the near future.

As l see it you have certainly earned our respect and thanks.


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