(Written by: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, May 3, 1915)
Today is a day when thoughts turn to those who have battled, won, lost, killed, injured, survived, but all changed, through the wars that were fought to bring freedom to many. The power of freedom, whether we fight for ourselves or others is a power beyond compare.
My maternal great-grandfather died in the trenches near Hooge on April 12, 1916 and is buried at Ypres, Belgium (near Flanders Field). He did not survive even a year of service. He never came home to meet his youngest child, never knew his grandchildren or great grandchildren. He is a hero to me. To sacrifice himself, his life to fight for the freedom of others in a far away land. Not only him, but his family who must have prayed every day for his safety and return.
My paternal grandfather battled in WWII. He came home and raised his family, met his grandchildren, and some of his great-grandchildren. He is another hero. He was fortunate to come home, but I cannot believe that he came home untouched by the horrors he saw, experienced and engaged in.
There are many others in my family history. My maternal great-uncle, the son my great-grandfather never met, also battled in WWII and returned safely home. My grandfather was medically unfit to go to war, but they are both heroes. One who went and one who stayed, they both fought a battle, for it was those who stayed that held up home and hearth in prayers for the safe return of the many family and friends who had gone, never knowing if they would return or if they would die.
There have been many wars since and I’m sure that there will be many more wars in our future. We must never forget how horrid these wars are. We, to this day, have men and women dying in battle, and more returning from war who are sorely touched and damaged fighting for the freedoms that we so often take for granted.
Today is a day to remember to whom we owe the honour and privilege of living in freedom. Lives have been laid down, changed, and damaged. No one comes out of a battle the same person they were when they went in. We must remember to thank them., whether they served for a day or a year. I urge you to express your appreciation, not just on Remembrance Day, but on any day you have the opportunity to say thank you. They serve us and our country with their lives. That is a great sacrifice.
Every story has power. Every story deserves to be remembered and told. Let us not forget, let us not repeat the battles of the past.