By Jamie Rieger
Next week on Nov. 11, communities across the nation will be hosting Remembrance Day services to honour our fallen and serving men and women. As veterans, dignitaries, and local organizations participate in their local service and lay wreaths at the cenotaph, there are thousands of soldiers and law enforcement officers on duty to keep the rest of us safe and sound.
I recall the first time I attended a Remembrance Day service when I was growing up in Redcliff. I took part along with other members of my Brownie group and all of us were dressed in our little brown uniforms and leggings. I’m not sure I realized at the time just how important Remembrance Day is to Canada, but I remember the events of the day; from the flag bearers who opened the ceremonies to all of the veterans, Ladies Auxiliary members, and Royal Canadian Legion members, who proudly wore their uniforms with all their medals to show their respect.
I also remember how cold it was outside as the wreaths were laid at the cenotaph. As a young girl in a little Brownie uniform, I was shivering in my boots as the service progressed. Even then, I knew that the soldiers of WWI and WWII would have endured far worse conditions than a few minutes in sub-zero temperatures and may not have had warm boots, mittens, or a toque to keep warm as they fought overseas.
That Remembrance Day service has left a lifelong impression on me and as I get older, I now recognize the significance of paying respect on that day. Whether we go out to our local service or watch the national news for the service in Ottawa, it is important that we take a few minutes out of our busy lives to reflect on our freedoms and the sacrifices made by our serving men and women (past and present) so we can have those freedoms.
Recently, Canada lost two of her finest to a different kind of enemy. Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent was killed on Oct. 20 when a radicalized Islam convert run him and another solder down in Quebec. Two days later, while guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Cpl. Nathan Cirillo lost his life to a gunman who ultimately was shot and killed when he stormed Parliament Hill.
On Sunday, Canada began her participation in air strikes in a global battle against an extreme terrorist group that is hell-bent on creating fear in a chaotic push across Iraq and Syria. Canada is at war, a war that does not resemble any from previous years, but it is a war that must be fought. Unfortunately, war is necessary at times, to protect the innocent, to protect our freedom, and to protect our homeland.
At the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month, be sure to take two minutes to pay your respect to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice so you can live in freedom, and give thanks for those who continue to give of their selves to keep the enemy off our doorsteps.