By Tim Kalinowski
Tomorrow is Remembrance Day. It is has always been a special and sacred time for my family. In the annals of our family tree we can mark 800 years of proud military service to crown and country in every major war of each epoch. While we do not know those ancient warriors well, those more recently in our living memory we definitely strive to remember and honour.
My mother’s family name is Guthrie of a proud Scottish heritage. My grandfather Flying Officer Bill Guthrie was a navigator/ bomb aimer on a Halifax aircraft who flew over 40 missions from 1942-1945. He received the Distinguished Flying Cross with his fellow crew member for the remarkable amount of missions they successfully completed and survived in one of the highest risk roles in the war. His brother Lindsay, also a crewman on a bomber, was not so lucky. Great uncle was shot down over Germany, survived the crash, but died in a German field hospital a few hours later. He is buried in Gelsenkirchen cemetery in the Reichwald Forest.
On my father’s side of the family, my grandfather Vincent Kalinowski served in Canada after being conscripted in the last year of the Second World War. He was the only son around to help his father run the farm in Saskatchewan, and had been exempted, at his father’s insistence, for much of the war. My father James served in the Royal Canadian Air Force from 1969-1974 as an aircraft technician. Highlights of his Air Force career included working on fighter jets and as a pit crewman for the Snowbirds while serving in 7 Hangar SNAGS at CFB Moose Jaw.
He would later serve as an Air Cadet officer during the time when both my brothers were part of the local squadron in Swift Current.
My brother Chris Kalinowski enlisted in the Canadian Army as an infrantryman in 1995 with Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry. He is currently a Warrant Officer attached to Canadian Defense Headquarters in Ottawa. He has served in Bosnia, Kosovo, Moscow, Afghanistan and will likely be deployed to assist with the Canadian mission in the Middle East early next year. He continues the proud tradition of generations of my family before him.
Military service is a calling which every Canadian hears but few answer. We ask our soldiers to stand between us and the evils of the world, and to defend the freedoms we enjoy here at home with force if necessary. War is not something to be desired, but our soldiers are constantly training to be ready to fight and, if needed, make the ultimate sacrifice to keep us safe.
There are many reading this who no doubt have veterans in their own families and know why Remembrance Day is so important. For those who have never served and have no role models in their family to help them understand, all they need to do is look around to see the quality of life we enjoy in Canada today to know why our soldiers deserve to be honoured.
So take the time to pause on November 11, reflect, pay tribute and take to heart the oath given to us from Canadian soldiers past, present and future: “Vigilamus pro Te,” (We stand on guard for thee).