It’s heartening to see young children relating to war veterans trying to spread the word to local youth.
How refreshing it is to see children and their families marching behind veterans on the way to the cenotaph. Even more heartwarming is seeing little tykes laying wreaths.
It is important that parents expose their young children to Remembrance Day ceremonies. It teaches them at a young age about the sacrifices others have made for their freedom. It teaches them respect and that the world does not revolve around their childhood wants and needs.
Last week’s Remembrance Day ceremony at South Okanagan Adventist Christian School was an experience to behold. The children sat up straight and all eyes were focused on the veterans (and their shiny medals, of course). They asked intelligent questions one after the other, and were enthralled by the answers. They made special pins for each veteran, and gave them a large card in the form of a poster. How thoughtful.
This sentiment touched the heart of each veteran that day, and reaffirmed that the younger generation is getting the message.
But sadly, many veterans continue to fall through the cracks in Canada. Many suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health problems, while others are still dealing with their physical injuries.
There are countless injury claims left unresolved by the federal government, and lawsuits from former soldiers seeking better compensation for putting their lives on the line.
There’s a saying that some people use to describe the government’s inaction – “delay, deny and hope that you die.”
The horrors of war have had devastating effects on our veterans, many of whom have turned to alcohol and drug abuse to dull their suffering. For some, it has ruined their marriages. For others, suicide was their only way out.
The easiest way people can support our veterans is to attend Remembrance Day ceremonies and support the annual poppy campaign.
We’re curious, though. What do people actually think about during the minute of silence at the cenotaph?
I always envision a lone soldier huddled in a trench during a downpour while bombs light up the midnight sky. This soldier is holding a photograph of his wife who is expecting a child.
The man is weeping because he is terrified of dying without saying goodbye to his loved ones. At the bottom of the trench, a pool of muddy water acts as the grave to several of his comrades.
The scene ends with the soldier clutching the photograph and praying. The minute is up, and I return to the ceremony.
Lest we forget.
Lyonel Doherty, editor