Growing up, I can tell you that the only thing I remember about Remembrance Day is pretty much sitting in a large gymnasium with a bunch of my elementary school friends who were told to be quiet as our Principle spoke and then being told to stay quiet during the eleventh hour. I wasn’t raised in a military family, I had never heard stories of war unless they were in school books, and we never attended cenotaphs, the sacrifices were stories to me. Never once, as a child did I truly understand Remembrance Day. I simply thought it was a day to remember anyone who had died.
I’ll never forget the day it really hit me. I was living in St. Catharines, Ontario at the time and on March 3, 2009, the local army regiment, The Lincoln and Welland Regiment, lost Warrant Officer Dennis Brown in Afghanistan. The day of his funeral, our city poured into the streets. When I saw his family, it all became real. The history books, the primary sources, they were no longer stories of soldiers and wars of long ago. This was my home, my community, and we lost one of our own, we all mourned.
After graduating from university, I met my, now-husband, Chris. An amazing partner and person, as well as a veteran of both the Bosnia peacekeeping mission and Afghanistan war. The first time he spoke about his experiences, I was left in awe. Remembrance Day took on a whole new meaning for me. You can hear his story below.
BIG ‘Thank you’ to the City of Brampton for making it possible for Chris to share his story.
We’re pretty lucky to live in a country that’s not ravaged by war, where our kids can go to school freely and as parents, we don’t think twice when they’re sitting in their classrooms. It’s something that so many of us take for granted every single day. There are parents living in fear for their children. Parents and communities who are helpless, who need protection in order to give their kids a glimmer of what we are able to give ours. This has been the role of so many of our serving members, to help people, to peacekeep and to protect.
Having a daughter, I’m not worried that she’ll share the same Remembrance Day childhood experience as I did. We attend the cenotaph every year, we’ll encourage her to ask questions and wear the poppy proudly, and encourage her to say thank you to the veterans she meets, because she lives in a community without fear. She probably won’t fully grasp the intellectual concept of war, death, and remembrance until she is much older but she will learn to say thank you to the people who have sacrificed so much to help and protect other people.
We need to understand that Remembrance Day is not about glorifying war, it’s about people. Men and women who have lost their lives doing something that most of us hope to never do. It’s about remembering those who came back but lost a piece of themselves forever, it’s about the families who support those who return and families who have to find the strength to pick up the pieces and carry on, remembering the sacrifices. It’s about remembering that war isn’t romantic, it should never be wanted, but it is sometimes necessary.
If your child is young, I’m not at all suggesting that you sit them down and explain the concept of war and death (however, maybe if your kid is playing Call of Duty, please explain to them that there is no such thing as a “kill/death ratio” in real-life…yes Chris had a high schooler seriously ask him that question while speaking at a school…), teach them through example, do your research, understand that veterans aren’t all 70+-year-olds who fought in the World Wars. Show your kids how to thank a vet, wear your poppies, and raise your kids to understand that there are people who would sacrifice everything, just so you and your kids don’t have to.
Because at the end of the day “..it’s about remembering those who signed up and essentially wrote a cheque to say ‘I’m giving you everything’.” Everything.
The video above was produced by the City of Brampton to spread awareness on the importance of Remembrance Day by showcasing the stories of some of the city’s veterans. The video above is the promotional preview…before you watch I recommend grabbing a box of tissues. Then head over to their YouTube or Facebook pages to follow along.
And don’t forget to wear your poppies with pride this Remembrance Day.
To all our soldiers and veterans, thank you for everything.