We should remember on Nov. 11 and everyday

By Brian Lee Crowley

Managing Director

Macdonald-Laurier Institute

(Troy Media)

Every Remembrance Day, Canadians rightly honour the sacrifice made by so many valiant compatriots over the years and decades past. Too often, however, we forget that remembrance of past deeds carries with it obligations to the present and for the future.

Primarily, we must care for our veterans and their families; that is, uphold the contract which exists between society and those who served in the past. We must also renew it with those who are serving today and will be asked to serve tomorrow.

An important sacrifice

Why do we falter in honouring our debt to our veterans? One reason is our lack of understanding of why the sacrifice of those who died, of those who were maimed in body or spirit or who simply risked so much in the service of their country, is so important, to us and to people a half a world away.

Let me pass on a story from a good friend who, as a child, was brought from Holland to live in Canada. It helps explain exactly what kind of men and women we sent overseas for past wars, have overseas today, and will need to send again.

Canadian troops liberated the Netherlands from Nazi occupation in World War II, a difficult job carried out with typical Canadian effectiveness and self-effacement, despite considerable losses fighting on flat, wet terrain that offered little shelter from enemy fire. Shortly after the liberation, my friend’s Dutch father met a Canadian soldier and stopped him to say: “You don’t know me and I don’t know you, but I know who you are and what you represent. You and your fellow Canadians came from across the Atlantic, from far away, knowing nothing of my country and having little at stake here. At great expense in blood and treasure you have freed us from cruel oppression, and I imagine you have lost friends and colleagues in the effort. The least I can do is to tell you how deeply grateful my fellow-countrymen and I are for what you have done for us.” The Canadian looked at him calmly, smiled and said, “No need to thank me sir. We had a job to do and we did it.” Then he saluted and carried on down the road, while my friend’s father went home and announced to his family, “I think we have found the country where we must go to live.”

My friend is Peter Stoffer, now a distinguished member of the Canadian parliament and a keen advocate of the rights and honours due to veterans. And his story reminds me of Col. Pat Stogran, Canada’s retiring Veterans Ombudsman. He, too, had a job to do and did it with quiet, dutiful determination. But it is a job we must all take upon ourselves.

Ask yourself this: Why was that Canadian soldier in Holland? It wasn’t just to fight the enemy. He and his comrades were also there to defend the moral principles on which our society is based, values like individual freedom, democracy and the rule of law. He, and soldiers just like him, was prepared to put his life, his hopes, his dreams and his family’s future on the line to uphold these principles, fighting for home, country and for a precious way of life.

A debt owed

They fought, and died, on behalf of all Canadians. When we, as citizens, ask our compatriots to take such risks, and make such sacrifices, we assume a debt of honour to all who serve, to those who return as well as those who do not. We must care for them and their families as needed.

I want to add my voice to Pat Stogran’s in calling on Ottawa to fulfill our practical and even more important moral obligations to ensure that the treatment of our veterans is based on the highest Canadian standards of decency, generosity and fairness. While I trust that the moral obligation is clear, the practical one also matters; the world is not a safe place and if and when we ask such sacrifices from our brave men and women, it is imperative that we understand and keep the commitment that necessarily accompanies the request.

Safety and honour alike demand it, on November 11 and every day.

Just Posted

Popular downtown initiative bolsters Stettler Food Bank donations

Wells Furniture and Brenda’s Cozy Cafe are gearing up for the third annual Food Bank Drive May 29th, 30th and 31st

‘Stop Order’ issued to Paradise Shores

According to the County, staff will continue to communicate and work with the developer

Magnetos Car Club ready to shine at annual car show and cruise

For the 19th year in a row, featured cars will line Main Street on June 8th

Stetter P&H Elevator pancake breakfast runs May 26th

Highlights include a threshing and rope making demos and flour and bread making

Red Deer resident releases a set of inspiring new titles

Bev Burton excited to share her story via Create Your Calm Waters and Arise & Shine

UPDATE: B.C. pilot killed in Honduras plane crash

The crash happened in the Roatan Islands area, according to officials

Growing wildfire prompts evacuation of High Level, Alta.

Chuckegg Creek fire has been burning for several day, but grew substantially Sunday

Growing wildfire prompts warning for High Level to prepare for evacuation

Town of High Level announced Monday that residents should get personal items in order

Carbon tax, desk-thumping on agenda in upcoming Alberta legislature session

Jason Kenney has appointed a panel to come up with ways to reduce spending in the budget this fall

Facebook takes down anti-vaxxer page that used image of late Canadian girl

Facebook said that the social media company has disabled the anti-vaccination page

Authorities warn out-of-control wildfire could cut northern Alberta town’s electricity

Alberta Transportation has closed Highway 35 south of High Level due to the fire

‘Rope-a-dope’: Environmentalists say Alberta war room threat won’t distract them

Those against Alberta Premier Jason Kenney aren’t worried about promise to fight critics of energy industry

Almost $13 million to be paid to Grande Prairie hospital subcontractors, others

No reasons for the Court of Queen’s Bench order were released

Canada’s parole officers say correctional system has reached breaking point

About half of Canada’s federal parole officers work inside penitentiaries and correctional institutions

Most Read