In Memoriam – Remembrance Day 2014
“In Flander’s Fields the poppies blow, between the crosses row on row.”
These immortal words of Lt-Col John McCrae will no doubt be spoken at dozens of school assemblies and community ceremonies across Canada on November 11th. Yet beneath the well-known poem lies an underlying message that unifies us as Canadians – We will remember them. Although the two world wars occurred more than 60 years ago, the courage and bravery of every Canadian soldier still resonates today. Whether in Afghanistan assisting those in danger or here in Canada helping flooded communities, the men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces continue to serve selflessly with courage and valour.
As a commissioned officer in the Royal Canadian Air Force Reserves, this guiding principle – the sense of service before self – resonates deeply with me and continues to serves as the basis in which I pursue all my endeavours. I have been able to observe firsthand the sacrifice and dedication of those who serve this great nation. I have seen the joy and sense of relief when loved ones return from peacekeeping missions and tours of duty, but I have also seen the sorrow and grief in family and friends of individuals who paid the ultimate sacrifice while fighting for the freedoms, rights and equality of those who could not. These freedoms and rights seem to come as a ‘default’ to all Canadians citizens and allow us to pursue our personal endeavours without oppression or tyranny. The courageous men and women of the Canadian military, regardless of element or speciality, not only embrace this concept of freedom, but put their own personal interests on hold and make it their personal missions to confer these rights to Canadians and those who are not as fortunate in other countries. This sense of teamwork, duty and service makes me proud to be a member of this family and compels me to continue to serve my community and country to the best of my abilities.
As an active military officer, Remembrance Day is a special day for me. Although I have not been deployed on tours of duty, November 11th is a day for me to thank those who have served before me and to reflect on my role in the greater civilian and military community. As a young child, I understood the concept of Remembrance Day but never fully appreciated its significance. However, having worked with a diverse array of military members, I now understand the dedication and sacrifice that is asked of Canadian military members, and their ability to carry on through personal, emotional or physical adversity is one that inspires me every day.
This Remembrance Day, I will be parading in Vancouver along with fellow military members, veterans and cadets. This is a day on which I am honoured to wear my uniform that so proudly displays the words “CANADA”. It is a day in which I remain solemn to remember those who have fallen, but filled with pride and gratitude as I salute those who have served and those who continue to serve. Each command that I hear will reflect the honour and gratitude I have for those who sacrificed so much to keep us safe, and each wave of the Canadian Flag will serve as a reminder of why I personally am willing to do what is asked of me to keep our beloved maple leaf flying high. I am proud to call myself a member of the Canadian Forces, and this Remembrance Day, whether wet or dry, cold or warm, attended by many or by few, I am honoured to stand on guard for the true north strong and free.
On November 11th, I encourage all of you to reflect on what you are personally thankful for and appreciate the precedence, impact and importance of this day. I hope that everyone can take the time to listen to the stories of the veterans and reflect, commemorate and honour those who have fallen in the past for the betterment of today.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.
NSN BC Regional Chair
Second Lieutenant – Royal Canadian Air Force (Reserves)
Photo Credit: shaun noonan