Observing Remembrance Day In Canada

In Flanders' FieldsLiving in Canada we’re raised with a healthy respect for our Veterans. Our system isn’t perfect I’m sure, but we provide well for our Veterans in terms of pensions, health benefits and take care of their spouses. AFAIK we’ve never allowed our vets to suffer from poor health care or substandard long term care. As they’ve grown older we have veterans homes established to take care of them as well as provide in-home support as needed (nurses and home care aids visit homes). Sometimes even light housekeeping is provided. After WWII the city I live in carved out a nice section of land for our vets and sold them the property for cheap to build homes for their families. The area today is high value since the lot sizes are huge, much bigger than anywhere else in our city.

On one side of my family (paternal) the boys all lined up to fight during WWII. The youngest didn’t meet the age requirement–but off he went. Today he’d never get away with it, but back then he flat out lied about how old he was. I don’t know if it was because the boys believed so strongly in the war, or if they were just trying to escape the farm ;). My great-uncles never really talked about the war and what their experience was, and the nosey kids (mainly me) were never allowed to ask them about it–but they all returned home whole. My Great-Grandmother was never without her rosary beads and I have no doubt she prayed night and day. I can’t imagine what it would be like for a woman to have all her sons fighting in a war so far from home.

One uncle never did seem to recover psychologically–he never married and prefers to keep to himself (he’s in his 80’s now). We’re not sure what happened to him or what he saw/did, but the war did seem to break something in him–another consequence of war. He’s a lovely man and we all shelter and protect him in our own way.

My husband’s side of the family wasn’t as fortunate and his uncle lost his life somewhere over the Netherlands after serving three years (he was in the air force). Looking at pictures of him you see a strong, vibrant, healthy, handsome man who was proud to serve his country. His mother was devastated and never fully recovered.

Recently the city I live in had a memorial for a soldier who was killed in Afghanistan. Yes, Canadians are sacrificing and dying in the middle east too. He was only a few years older than my son, and I can’t help but realize that being a soldier really is a calling from within. Not everyone has such a strong desire to serve, or believes that their efforts will help, or has the courage to do so. But thankfully the rest of us can enjoy the freedoms that others believe so strongly in fighting for.

I don’t think there are many families in Canada who haven’t had at least one family member serve during one of the wars, or even somewhere in the middle east or around the world today serving as peace keepers. Today we Canadians from coast to coast will be wearing poppies:

Wikipedia – Remembrance Day

The poppy’s significance to Remembrance Day is a result of Canadian military physician John McCrae’s poem In Flanders Fields. The poppy emblem was chosen because of the poppies that bloomed across some of the worst battlefields of Flanders in World War I, their red colour an appropriate symbol for the bloodshed of trench warfare. A Frenchwoman by the name of Madame E. Guérin introduced the widely used artificial poppies given out today. Some people choose to wear white poppies, which emphasises a desire for peaceful alternatives to military action. The sale of red poppies raises funds to help ex-servicemen – the sale of white poppies does not.

I love being a Canadian, and I’m proud that our country remembers and is supportive of its vets. I hope I see a lot of poppy wearing people out and about today ;).


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