Veterans are never far from our minds and this August has been a particularly poignant time of remembrance.
On Aug. 4, Prime Minister Stephen Harper marked the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War which plunged Europe into conflict from 1914 to 1918.
Canada’s experience in World War I became a source of deep national pride due to important victories at places like Vimy Ridge, Passchendaele and Amiens, which gave Canada a newfound standing in the world.
More than 66,000 men and women from our soils gave their lives during the First World War, and an estimated 172,000 more were wounded.
In his official statement, the prime minister honoured the sacrifices and tremendous achievements of the more than 650,000 brave Canadians and Newfoundlanders who left their families and the comfort of their homes to serve their King and country.
He also extended gratitude and appreciation to all members of the Canadian Armed Forces and their families—past and present—who courageously serve to preserve the universal values of freedom, peace and democracy that we hold most dear.
On Aug. 5, Veterans Affairs Parliamentary Secretary Parm Gill and my colleague MP Laurie Hawn, also a veteran, came to the riding and participated in a round-table at Royal Canadian Legion Branch 26, with the Oyama Legion branch 189 president and a veterans affairs client services team manager also in attendance.
We also met with the president, the service officer, and members of the Army, Navy & Air Force Veterans in Canada Unit #376, where we talked with veterans and toured the facility.
The discussions gave the parliamentary secretary the opportunity to provide updates on the federal government initiatives related to veterans’ employment and the full spectrum of benefits and services available to those who have served.
In turn, the meetings allowed veterans to provide feedback on ways to help them and their families successfully transition from military to civilian life.
I would like to remind local veterans that a full-time dedicated Veterans Service Agent is available at the Service Canada office located at 471 Queensway Ave. in downtown Kelowna, open Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
We have been told that few veterans are using the service with only one or no visits on any given day; however, the minister of veterans affairs is committed to providing this service.
Last but not least, on Aug. 6 I received the following from a constituent hoping to get the message out about a ceremony commemorating an important time in history during WW II:
“Dear Mr. Cannan:
The events referred to in the following news item took place in Sept 1944 when the writer ( a retired journalist ) and I were both 15 years old and attending Dover Grammar School. When you read it I believe you will be struck by the strong Canadian connection to this unique town at a significant moment in its history. The Prime Minister consistently demonstrates his support for our people in the military and the purpose of this message is to ask if you would use your good offices to ensure that our High Commission in London is made aware of this upcoming service so that Canada might be suitably represented. I wish we could identify the army units involved!–
The news item to which Mr. Spear refers is a notice that on Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014, at 10:45 a.m., the town of Dover, UK will be holding a service at the church of St. Mary the Virgin to commemorate the devastating effects of a barrage of shelling on the town in September 1944.
That shelling killed both civilians and Allied troops, and was stopped only when advancing Canadian troops, who had landed in Normandy during the June 1944 D-day invasion, captured the long-range guns of the Germans.
The service will offer thanks and prayers for those who died.
Terry Sutton, spokesman for the church and a friend of Mr. Spear says, “We are hoping that those still alive who endured those terrible September days will join us at this special service.
“Perhaps those whose family members were killed by shelling would like to attend.”
“We will also be giving thanks to the brave Canadian soldiers who risked death, and those who gave their lives, in capturing and eliminating the German guns that in four years fired more than 2,200 shells into the town of Dover.”
Further information on this event can be obtained by emailing Terry Sutton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The world wars and those fought since may be behind us, but through commemorations like these and by talking directly to our veterans about their needs, we are confirming that their service and sacrifice will forever hold a meaningful place in our hearts and minds.ron