Friday is Remembrance Day.
That means a long weekend for most British Columbians. And the temptation to take full advantage of the three-day respite from work will be great. Some may hightail it out of town. Some will get a start on their Christmas shopping.
Which is all well and good, provided we pause to honour and reflect on the sacrifices others made that allow us to enjoy such luxuries as long weekends, travel, bountiful stores.
The last of the First World War veterans are gone. The ranks of those who served in the Second World War dwindle every year. Soon they, and the stories they tell to enliven that conflict to current generations, will also be gone.
Their sacrifice and their selfless contribution when they were in the prime of their lives to allow us our current freedoms and quality of life are unquestioned. When they went off to war, the enemy was apparent, unmistakable in its intent. Their job was to be liberators, to vanquish that enemy, banish it forever as a threat. As we watch them shuffle by in ever-smaller ranks at Remembrance Day ceremonies, it’s hard not to swell with pride at the job they did so well.
The veterans of more contemporary conflicts, like the war in Afghanistan, don’t have it so easy. The war they were sent to fight is not universally seen as our war. The freedoms they fight to uphold are more removed from our daily lives. The decision to send them there is regarded by some as more political than just.
Sixty years on, their stories won’t be of heroic landings by tens of thousands on fortified beaches; they’ll be about patrols along dusty roads where death might lurk in a pothole around the next corner. The success of their missions won’t be measured in our ability to vote in free elections but in better access to education and an improved standard of living in faraway lands.
For that, their sacrifice is no less deserving of our honour and respect.
– Black Press