In Canada, between November 5 and 11, we honour Veterans Week – a time for us to remember the sacrifice of the brave men and women who have served Canada past and present.
During this time, we have an opportunity to reflect on our veterans and pay tribute to them by wearing a poppy, supporting the Royal Canadian Legion, learning more about their contributions and finding a way to remember them.
Remembrance Day was first observed in 1919, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month – one year after signing the Armistice Agreement that ended World War 1. Back then it was called Armistice Day, but in 1931 the federal government passed a bill changing the name to Remembrance Day.
Many of us have a history of family members who have served with the Canadian Armed Forces, with some of our stories dating back generations. It is important to continue sharing these, to keep their memories alive.
Like many Canadians, before and after us, my family’s path to this country was paved by war. I was born in the Netherlands, but we left shortly after the Second World War and came to a nation that has always welcomed refugees fleeing the devastation of far-flung conflict.
My family owes so much to Canada, and to the veterans who helped liberate the Netherlands.
How does one pay their respects or say ‘thank you’ to those who paid the ultimate price defending our values and freedom, and protecting those in need? We remember their sacrifice, defend the values for which they fought, and tell their stories so generations will remember those brave men and women.
Let us remember the 7,000 Canadian volunteers who fought in our nation’s first overseas conflict – the South African War (1899-1902). Let us pay tribute to 650,000 men and women from Canada and Newfoundland who fought in the First World War. And honour the 66,000 veterans who died defending freedom. Let us pay our respects to the one million Canadians and Newfoundlanders who defended our values and those of our Allies in the Second World War. And let’s never forget the 45,000 Canadians who died, and the 55,000 wounded.
Let us never forget the 26,000 Canadians who fought in The Korean War, or the loss of life and the wounded Canadians. Let us remember the loss of 1,800 Canadian lives since 1947 (not including the Korean War) and the important role of Canadian Armed Forces in peacekeeping missions around the world; the humanitarian work provided to nations in need and here at home.
On November 8th, as part of Veterans Week, we recognize Indigenous Veterans Day. A day to pay tribute to the estimated 12,000 First Nations, Métis, and Inuit people for their long tradition of military service.
Let us continue to make this a time to honour and remember those who have served Canada, in times of war, military conflict, and peace. Let us remember our veterans and the current members of our armed forces, and honour the ideals they so courageously defend. Please, if you can, attend a Remembrance Day Service.
Lest we forget. Nous nous souviendrons.