Wednesday, November 11, 2015
Remembrance Day 2015: Remembering the Dead and the Living
It's Remembrance Day 2015, and this year it will be for me like no other I have ever known. A day of sadness and celebration.
A day to mourn all those who sacrificed their lives for this country.
And a day to give thanks that this other tragedy, this other gaping wound of war, is finally going to be recognized.
Defence Minister Harjit Singh Sajjan has ordered Canada’s top military leader to make suicide prevention a priority and examine why an increased number of soldiers have taken their lives in recent years – after the country’s long and bloody ensnarement in the Afghanistan war.
The minister’s call to action follows a Globe and Mail investigation that revealed nearly 60 military members and veterans killed themselves after serving in the 13-year NATO-led Afghan mission.
Despite the best efforts of the military, and the Harper regime, to try to bury the truth.
The Forces had previously said it had not found a consistent relationship between serving overseas and increased suicide risk.
So hopefully now our wounded warriors will finally receive the help they need, other tragedies can be averted. Our veterans will finally be treated with the respect they deserve.
And that now that we know the true toll of war...
We won't be so eager to send our soldiers to fight in one small war after the other for no sane reason.
Which will make this day a very special day for me.
And then there's that even more personal source of satisfaction.
The fulfillment of a vow I made to these Canadians in this beautiful but lonely cemetery in the Scottish highlands...
As I've mentioned before, I like to spend an afternoon every summer tending their already well kept graves.
And for years as I crawled from one stone to the other, plucking out any weeds, I couldn't help feeling ashamed.
That they should have sacrificed their lives so that we could be free, while back in Canada we were looking on helplessly as a depraved would-be dictator was stripping those freedoms away.
And I vowed to them, and on my grandfather's flying log book, one of my most sacred possessions...
Along with the leaves from the dead tree that inspired the Maple Leaf Forever.
That I would fight as hard as I could to help change that situation.
And now of course we have. We did defeat the tyrant.
And I can face eternally young soldiers like this one again with my head held high...
And say thank you for your sacrifice. I'm sorry your life was so short.
But we will never forget you.
We are free again.
And you can rest in peace...
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