Why we challenge ourselves on Remembrance Day

Every year Canadians gather to express their gratitude to veterans at municipal and Legion-hosted events across the country. This year as we celebrate 150 years of Confederation we can also celebrate those who have truly stood on guard for us.  Part of that job involves asking ourselves if there isn’t more we can do to support our proud veterans and their loved ones.

 Throughout our first 150 years, and even before our formal ascent into nationhood, Canada has built a proud military tradition. The missions that tested our nation also played a significant role in forming our identity.  Our common struggles brought us together and connected our diverse regions. That is why we stand together on Remembrance Day to honour those who have served to protect us and bring peace to the world, and to remember our sons and daughters who left their homes in the service of Canada.

 At these ceremonies we remember the sacrifice and contribution of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people who joined our forces and continue to serve with pride. We also honour the memories of those who gave their lives on distant shores and pray for the safe return of those who serve us today.

 We remember and recognize military families for whom separation and loss is neither theoretical nor easy. We also acknowledge that military families can bear the brunt of the workload when veterans require care beyond that which is available from our country.  At the same time we try to understand the emotional burden these families carry.  That is why we strive to treat our veteran’s loved ones with compassion, knowing that theirs is not always an easy load to shoulder.

In Canada we are fortunate that our veterans have many allies including Legions that go the extra mile to support their members time and again. We have learned that the best way to ensure veteran’s rights are protected is through strong advocacy. That it is better to assess the work being done on behalf of veterans with clear sight, unimpeded by nostalgia and rhetoric.  That is why we support the work of allies like the Veteran’s Ombudsman, so that we can always strive to do our best and to challenge ourselves when those efforts are incomplete.  That is why we understand that it is not ‘un-Canadian’ to ask these tough question, instead, it is a fitting tribute to those whose sacrifice must always be remembered.

 When we challenge ourselves to do the very best by our veterans, we do so as a matter of principle. In doing so, we strive to be the caring and just country that generations of proud soldiers fought to defend. That is part of what we must remember as we give thanks for the contributions and sacrifices that allowed us to grow into the nation we are and re-commit to build a future of peace where sacrifice attains its ultimate reward – an end to war.

 That is why we say; today, tomorrow and all year long, it is our duty to salute the fallen by standing up for the living.

 Lest we forget.