Veterans deserve not only respect from citizens, but also from their government and the political leaders who send them overseas in the first place.
Last weekend, veteran protests pointed to a serious deficiency in the Veterans’ Charter, which is a poor effort, at best, to support injured soldiers once they return to Canada. These heroes need to be protected, not neglected. In particular veteran’s are opposed to the New Veterans Charter brought in by the Conservative government in 2006, which would replace life-long pensions for injured and wounded soldiers with a one time lump payment and future financial support. How strange it is that a country can send out those that serve and then, when they return, fail to give them necessary benefits.
To aid veterans is in everyone’s best interest. It benefits not only the soldiers, but also the Canadian people they help protect and the Canadian government who relies on the willingness of citizens to serve to further its military agenda and obligations. With word this week that Canada’s Afghan mission may be extended until 2014, people thinking of serving this great country should rest assured that they and their loves ones will be taken care of if something were to happen to them.
Year after year, more veterans go unrecognized for the contributions they have made towards our history as Canadians. The lack of recognition becomes more alarming with the imminent return of our troops from Afghanistan and our general apathy as a province towards to our military. With “Support Our Troops” magnets ripped off cars and a cenotaph defaced, Quebec has lost sight of the sacrifice that gave it its freedom.
It is sad when one of the few public podiums used to honour the fallen is Don Cherry’s Coach’s Corner, where he continually holds a moment of silence for soldiers who have died in Afghanistan. Have we so lost sight of the ideals that built this nation that a hockey pundit has to educate the masses?
As the number of Second World War veterans dwindles, and with John Babcock, the last surviving Canadian WWI veteran, passing away earlier this year, it becomes important, no, essential, to keep the memories alive, whether through parades, ceremonies, or even talking about war. In order to avoid conflict in the future, we must first understand the past.
Remembrance Day in Canada serves as a grim reminder of the cost of peace. Originally a commemoration of the First World War, “the war to end all wars,” the observance now stands around the world as a solemn reminder of the past, and how all war, regardless of nation or motive, erodes the path to peace.
Today, our honoured tradition of service finds our troops in Afghanistan. Regardless of political point of view, we need to revere and respect our soldiers, who bravely protect our nation, regardless of whether they agree with Parliament’s motivation or not.
We must stand together as a nation on Nov. 11, to once more remember. It is in the silence of those few minutes that we give our greatest tribute to our fallen. If we do not remember the cost, we shall never let those who have died rest in peace. After our moment of silence, take 30 minutes to just sit and read about Vimy Ridge, D-Day, or even the current Afghanistan mission. Read and ask about our soldiers, men and women who stood and stand together for the sanctity of our nation.
Our future hope for world peace begins now. It begins with remembering our history, and more importantly, understanding our history. Remembrance Day will have no shortage of veterans, as continued military campaigns will supply them.
To quote British poet and World War I volunteer Laurence Binyon’s 1914 homage to the war dead: “They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.”