Friday, November 11, 2011

Lest we forget

Remembrance Day should be held in the utmost respect and reverence for the thousands of men and women who have served in the military protecting the liberties we, as a society, take for granted every day.

This is not meant to be a political discussion. I don’t care if you sit on the right or the left; arguing about the purpose of our fighting forces does nothing but cheapen their tremendous sacrifice.

To all of those who question our involvement in overseas conflicts:

The only reason you are able to espouse such opinions and exercise your right of free speech is due to the strength and resolve of our veterans. Remember that the next time you criticize military tactics and procedures. These people made the ultimate sacrifice for you, asking nothing in return.

I fear that patriotism and remembrance is taking a backseat in the non-stop hustle of 21st century society and its subservience to technology. When is the last time you turned off your cellphone, computer, or television, and truly appreciated how great it is to live in a country like Canada?

I love the support provided by citizens during repatriation ceremonies along the Highway of Heroes, but it’s terrible to think that such an outpouring of compassion and thanks is catalyzed by the death of one of our soldiers.

I implore everyone to shut off all communication devices at 11 a.m. and reflect on the lives that were lost to guarantee our liberty. Two minutes is a miniscule amount of time to appreciate the veterans and the blanket of freedom they have provided Canadians.

It’s always heartbreaking to watch elderly men and women reminisce about their wartime experiences during Remembrance Day ceremonies. You can see them struggling with inner demons of what they saw and what they had to do during their time “over there.” Many have tears rolling down their cheeks.

The courage and bravery showed by these veterans is incomprehensible to me. We live in an age where the sports media thinks “courage” is a pitcher throwing on three days rest. Risking your life for your country is something the average person could never imagine.

I have a close friend who served two tours of duty overseas. He is the bravest person I know. The funny thing is I could beat him up in high school; now he could probably kill me with one hand.

It takes a special type of person with a bravery gene to risk life and limb. I am glad there are people like him willing to do the dirty work to keep us safe.

The things veterans have seen change them forever. They are haunted by their experiences for the rest of their lives – a steep price to pay for serving one’s country.

To all former and current military personnel: