The significance of Remembrance Day seems to sink in a little deeper each year for me as I get older. Does it for you too? Or is it becoming a more distant memory, with a decaying half-life in your memory banks? Do you have a family member who served? Do your children know about that, or how you feel about the 1.1 million Canadians who served in the Second World War, or the more than 44,000 Canadians who died in action in the Second World War? Has it ever been a conversation?
It was incredibly heartwarming, and even emotional, to see the large crowd gathered downtown last Friday at Charles Hoey Memorial Park, next to the train station, to pay respect to those who served. A key highlight was hearing Second World War veteran and Cowichan resident, George Brewster, now 99, proudly recite ‘In Flanders Fields’ for all in attendance. Brewster flew a Spitfire during the latter stages of the war and was a great pilot. The individual the memorial park is named after, Major Charles Hoey, was from Duncan and served during the Second World War in Burma from 1942 until he was killed in action in 1944. Hoey led his infantry company in an assault on a hill held by the enemy. He was killed, but his gallantry earned him the Victoria Cross. He was 29 years old.
It was also shared from one of the speakers on stage on Friday that Duncan’s representation of service men and women holds the highest per capita of any town in Canada.
As I get older, I find that these sacrifices and stories become more and more meaningful. One year, not too long ago, I didn’t go down to Charles Hoey Memorial Park for the Remembrance Day ceremony. I remember thinking that whatever was going on at the moment was more important. And then later realizing that perhaps I didn’t make the choice that aligned with my values. So, I vowed not to do that again.
What we choose to schedule into our lives tells the absolute truth about what and how we prioritize. Not to say people don’t have other things to do. Or important family related stuff. However, I’ll say it again, our schedule shows the truth about what we prioritize.
It would be my hope that each year more and more people attend our Remembrance Day ceremony, as fewer and fewer Canadian Second World War service men and women survive the next 12 months. Although times are different now, some believe (me included) that defending our freedoms and way of life may require conflict and sacrifice at times. I share my deep gratitude for those who served. For those who serve. And for those who will serve.
Let us not only remember for a few hours each year those who served. Let us not only feel grateful one day each year for the deep sacrifice of so many Canadians and their families. Let us continue to appreciate the monumental mission that so many Canadians were called upon to do. Let us never forget.