For many of us in our busy modern lives, there exist few moments of true silence, stillness and reflection.
Monday provides such a moment during St. Albert's annual Remembrance Day ceremony.
For those of us who have never donned a military uniform, it can sometimes feel like the work of building a better world has already been done, and we can sit back and enjoy the peace we currently have. Most of us have never known times of war. It is easy to go about our lives blissfully unaware that the current peace we enjoy today came with a hefty price. Knowing that, events like No Stone Left Alone – which brings students out to place poppies on the gravestones of soldiers – become more significant, as they instil a living memory of the impacts of war on people who have never experienced it themselves.
Remembrance Day is as much a time to be grateful for what we have as it is a day to remember the men and women who have served Canada over the years. Beyond giving thanks for our freedom and hard-won rights, Remembrance Day is also a day to take a hard look at our country, to adjust course if need be, to truly honour those who fought – and those who are still fighting – for what we have today.
Some of those men and women took the time to speak with the Gazette's Jeff Hansen for our Nov. 6 paper about what Remembrance Day means to them. Their works provide a poignant perspective.
"What I'm happy about is what a lot of us did, which allows people to have the choice to attend (Remembrance Day ceremonies) or not to attend. It also allows you to pay respect, not only for the men and women who served, but also for their families who stayed behind," said Laz Tollas, who spent nearly 42 years with the military.
Bob Duncan, who served for 40 years, said it's important to remember we still have people serving today as well, and it's important to look to the future and ensure we don't repeat the past.
Wise words indeed, given the deep divides we're seeing in Canada's political landscape today and the economic unrest globally. Not only did thousands of Canadians, Albertans and St. Albertans give their lives to establish peace and security over the decades since the First and Second World Wars, but thousands are still serving that cause across the country today. They deserve our tribute and thanks.
Let us also remember the many men and women who returned from service with unmendable scars – physical, emotional and mental – and the military families that have grieved together and healed together after losing a loved one. Much has been sacrificed. We must never forget.