Once a year, on Nov. 11, the world pauses to remember the innumerable reasons for which we honour our veterans.
Their sacrifices can be measured in many ways, from the freedoms gained from which we benefit, to the countless lives lost or forever changed.
Without having experienced it, we can only imagine what it was like, and try to remember and honour those who were there – ask them to regale us with their stories, applaud them for their bravery, wear a poppy, lay a wreath, try to recall why our country went to war in the first place, and determine to not repeat history.
And while this annual tribute is important and must continue – lest we forget – once a year seems hardly enough.
As one veteran recently said, “I remember every day.”
Most of us are fortunate enough not to have lived through war, let alone war at its worst. We don’t have those memories and are glad for that.
Some soldiers come back from conflict safe. But too many don’t come back safe and sound, or at all. We know that post-traumatic stress disorder haunts our military men and women in great numbers, and we can surmise that it happened after the First and Second World War, too, though we failed to recognize it as often then.
Soldiers gave us, and continue to give us, more than their service. We know now that the sacrifices made last a lifetime.
Today, newspapers across the country – including the Peace Arch News – will publish stories about our veterans, their experiences, their sacrifices (see Les Jacques’ story on page 1 today).
While many of these stories end in death and loss, not all are sad. They are also about heroes and valour, and often, hope.
We will try to remember the fallen and try to remember war and what it meant, and what it means, and its good and ill.
Year-round, such remembrance can take many forms, from donating to a veteran’s charity, to attending events at a local legion, to simply saying ‘thank you’ to a veteran, should the opportunity arise.
Our soldiers bear the memories that we don’t have to have. They possess one kind of strength and we must possess another: the conviction to live in a world without war.
They remember every day, and so should each of us, as we work toward a world in which war is just a memory.
It’s the least we can do.