Charity should begin at home, but should not stay there. ~ Philip Brooks
You have not lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you. ~ Anonymous
A good laugh is sunshine in the house. ~ William Makepeace Thackeray
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DON’T JUST REMEMBER
This Saturday, we will honour those who have served our country at the risk, and often cost, of their own lives.
I struggle with Remembrance Day every year. I, myself, have never had the honour of serving my country, but I certainly know a great number of men and women who have. Where I struggle is with the knowledge of memories, told through their stories of actual accounts versus the sanitized version of what we honour. I think, because we almost romanticize the sacrifices of those lost, we fail to recognize the true horrors they endured.
We thank them for sacrifices made and give a moment of silence for the ‘Fallen’. They didn’t fall. They were killed. We thank those who may have suffered loss of limb, but don’t acknowledge as a nation, the mental injuries that haunt them throughout the rest of their lives. We honour those that battled on our behalf, but fail to acknowledge the torment of guilt they live with on a daily basis.
I received a notice reminding me of my yearly donation to the Veteran’s Food Bank. The receipt of the reminder angers me. Not because they are asking for another donation, because that I willingly do. I’m angered because there is even a need for a veteran’s food bank. How can we, as a country, in good conscience, ask young men and women to give up years of their lives to serve and protect at the risk of their own lives, without having programs, housing, and full medical, including mental wellness, provided for them upon their return to civilian life?
I’m not saying we should buy them all houses when they return to civilian life. I know that these men and women wouldn’t want that either. They have pride and are willing to work, but we certainly shouldn’t have any of them homeless either. There should be assurances that care will be provided for them until such time that they are physically and mentally able to care for themselves again. And all medical or mental wellness should be covered 100% for the remainder of their lives.
Then, there are their families. When a soldier is lost in service, why do we not provide their spouses with a military allowance equal to that soldier’s wages? Why don’t we assure his or her children will be provided with a fully paid post-secondary education? They serve to protect us, yet we don’t feel a need, as a country, to look out for their families? They would have paid for their children’s university had they survived or avoided injury. Now that they are incapable of doing so, shouldn’t we, as a nation, fulfil that commitment?
The First World War was declared one hundred-three years ago. It lasted over four years, ending November 11th, 1918. It’s highly unlikely that you or I would know anyone that served in that war. They have long passed. So, for us to remember them would be impossible. It is with those thoughts in mind that we must teach future generations the history associated with Remembrance Day, just as it was taught to us.
But we have lost soldiers since. The world still has unrest, and we still have men and women serving on our behalf in distant countries, far away from their families and their homes. Wearing a poppy and acknowledging them once a year is certainly appropriate. But we, as a nation, must recognize that we should commit to a much larger obligation, if we truly appreciate what they have done, and continue to do on our behalf.
Donations for the Veteran’s Food Bank can be received at the Airdrie Food Bank. The direct phone number to the Veteran’s Food Bank in Calgary is 403-265-6304. The other way we can help is by making a larger contribution to the Poppy Fund (when we buy a poppy, put twenty dollars in instead of just five). Through your donations to the Legion Poppy Fund, the Legion provides financial assistance and support to Veterans, including Canadian Armed Forces and RCMP, and their families who are in need.