Federal Retirees’ president would like to look ahead to Remembrance Day and recognize the extraordinary efforts and sacrifices of Canada’s veterans as well as those who continue to serve.
On the 11th hour of the 11th day of November, something special happens at the National War Museum in Ottawa. Architect Raymond Moriyama designed a somber room at the front of the museum such that at that moment in time every year, if the sun is shining, a ray of light hits a tombstone — the stone that for decades belonged to the man who is now Canada’s Unknown Soldier and whose remains are in a sarcophagus at the National War Memorial. The stone — which says only “a soldier of the great war, a Canadian regiment, known unto God — and the soldiers’ remains were repatriated to Canada not far from Vimy Ridge in France. The room offers a poignant chance to remember the sacrifices Canada’s men and women in uniform have made.
Indeed, Remembrance Day and Veterans’ Week (Nov. 5 to 11) are sacred days set aside each year to remember the past sacrifices of our women and men in uniform and recognize the sacrifices being made by those who serve in uniform today.
When we think of the First World War and the Second World War, we think of all those who marched off and sailed to Europe, putting themselves in harm’s way and we also think of those who remained at home — the parents, spouses and children who were left behind to worry about their loved ones. There were sacrifices at every level of society during those wars, and subsequent wars and military operations, such as Korea, the Cold War, Afghanistan and the many UN operations in which Canadians have served. It’s notable that the cease-fire in the Korean war was in 1953, 70 years ago this year.
It’s often said: If we don’t remember, we are at danger of repeating these historical mistakes. And of course, this is happening globally as I pen this, with the war between Israel and Hamas and the invasion of Ukraine by Russia.
I served for 38 years in the military, and I’m surprised when I think back on the number of colleagues who lost their lives over the course of my career, many in training accidents and others due to complications stemming from PTSD. Still others lived but continue to suffer from PTSD. I remember them all during this week of reflection.
This year, I encourage you to get out to the Remembrance Day service in your community and if that happens to be Ottawa, watch for our board vice-president, Hélene Nadeau, who will lay a wreath on behalf of Federal Retirees. There are many events planned across the country all week long and they, too, will be worth your time and reflection. Lest we forget.