There is a sense of irony to how as time moves forward, the importance for our need to remember the past increases.
That concept tends to be a tad difficult with each passing year – since those that helped create our history tend to die leaving those alive with less knowledge or memory of what it is they are trying to remember.
There is no better example of that than Armistice Day or Remembrance Day.
Next week millions of people around the world will gather to pay honour and tribute to the multitude of men and women who gave up their lives for a cause they believed in.
The majority of those paying tribute were not even born when the final bullets of the second or first great wars ended.
We honour those heroes largely based on the history lessons taught to us by our parents and grandparents, educators, books or television.
Thankfully the closest I actually ever came to the horrors of war was taking part in some peace protests as a young teen regarding the Vietnam War.
However, my life, like so many others, was certainly impacted by the reality of war.
I will never forget the ranting and ravings of my grandfather who was horribly wounded in the first war and lost his only son in the second.
I still remember the sorrow in my mother’s eyes when she recalled losing her only brother at age 21 in Italy.
My Uncle Roy’s photograph sits in my living room, a reminder of what was and what may have been.
I look at his military picture almost every day and feel like I am looking at the face of a man I know well —yet we never met.
I am not alone.
Millions of Canadians are fortunate enough to enjoy the freedoms we do because of Roy and many, many more young soldiers who died scared and cold in the bloody, muddy fields of some far off land.
The significance of what they did has never escaped my mind – and I truly thank them for their supreme sacrifice.
I am also thankful that barring any sudden shift in things, I will finish my time on this planet without having to go to war or watch my kids or my friends children have to do the same.
I am a huge believer in showing support to our fallen men and women on Remembrance Day—however like some I see the need to remember our veterans on other days of the year as well.
Two other days are especially significant in honouring the extreme effort—Christmas and any election date—be it municipal, provincial, or federal.
Without their effort none of us would have the freedom and right to vote.
We would not have the ability to yell and scream about what clowns the Senate is, or how much of a loser Toronto’s mayor is – without the price paid by veterans.
I believe there is no better way to honour our war dead than to get out and execute our right to vote at every election – even if the vote is simply one of protest.
Ironically, there are those who insist that voting in elections be mandatory – however I find that a hypocrisy of the purpose they fought.
Freedom is about choice—and as disturbing and insulting as I believe it to be when someone does not vote—it is still that person’s choice.
Forcing someone to vote mocks the freedom of choice.
I believe Christmas is another important day to celebrate our freedom.
Not only is Christmas about faith and the right to hold your own values dear —it is also about family—past and present.
Christmas is about memories and remembering – and about celebrating life.
Of late I have heard numerous comments that decorating or talking about Christmas before Nov. 11 is wrong or insulting.
I don’t share that thought. Certainly it is not appropriate on Nov.11 itself, however, I know of no veteran who would want us to not look forward or plan for Christmas on any day with the exception of Nov. 11.
Remembrance Day is celebrated on Nov.11 for historic reasons—however in reality—we should celebrate and honour those brave men and women every day of the year.
I hope on Remembrance Day this year you take the time to stop and remember—that you bow your head in respect, say a few words of thanks, and truly take stock in how lucky we are to be here today, in Canada, in a free and wonderful place to live.
Speaking of celebrating life, I remind readers that this year’s 9th annual Night of the Arts concert is set for the Kelowna Community Theatre on Saturday, Nov.16 (see story on A16).
Make note of the earlier start this year with the doors opening at 5:30 p.m. and the concert starting at 6:30.
Admission is by donation and proceeds go towards Metro Community and their work with the homeless in our community. It promises to be a fabulous night of music.
See you there.