November 11 is a brief moment in time to honour those Canadians who laid their lives on the line, and in so doing sacrificed everything for the sake of those they left behind.
Our ceremonies tend to be dominated by the memories of those who served in the larger conflicts of the 20th Century, the two world wars that bookended the greatest generation, and to a lesser extent those who saw service in the Korean War at the behest of the nascent dream that was the United Nations—intent on stemming the aggression that had too often in the recent past sent the globe spinning into the maelstrom of global conflict. But although the sheer volume of the number of sacrifices laid at the altar of freedom in those wars is almost inconceivable to us today, thankfully unmatched in recent memory, on an individual level they are no greater a sacrifice than those who have fallen in the service of their nation in peacekeeping missions around the globe since, be it in the dusty vales of Afghanistan or the green hills of Cyprus. For those families left behind, the pain of that sacrifice and their loss is every bit as real and tragic, despite not being shared by thousands of their countrymen.
Death in the service of your country is a terrible thing and that sacrifice remains unmatched for the friends and families of the fallen. On an individual scale, that loss is monumental.
As we join the dwindling ranks of the remaining veterans of global conflicts, those last remnants of “The Greatest Generation,” let us also pause to also remember those whose sacrifice is so terribly recent. Let us also remember those who have returned from foreign lands maimed in body or mind and unable to return to those ordinary lives they once held dear.
Once the poppies have been removed from lapels, and aged warriors have laid their medals to rest in dresser drawers, let us not forget until next November 11. Let each of us demand that those who govern our nation also remember the sacrifices that have been made, not just on one day of the year, but for every day thereafter. Too many of our veterans have been let slide into despair and suicide because we have not demanded that they receive the care and support their sacrifices deserves.
In the days, weeks and years that follow November 11 let us continue to remember the sacrifices that have been made and demand the government step up to meet the needs of our veterans. Yes, it will cost—but that invoice will be paid in mere money, not in blood.
Lest we forget.