What do I remember?

26659 OCdt (II) Danielle Andela – e -Veritas Correspondent

Ever since we were small children, we have been told to stop fiddling, stand up straight and be quiet, because it is time to remember. From the moment we were old enough to know what it means we have stood through these routines of assemblies and ceremonies, speeches and stories of survival, moments of silence followed by Reveille. But how do these formalities, these routines really find their way to your heart? How can I, as a young adult who has never seen the face of war because of the sacrifices made by others, truly remember?

As a child I stood by, I said the words “I will remember” but I did not know what they meant. As I became older, as a teenager when I joined air cadets, I began to understand a bit more. I began to learn more intimately about the various conflicts and wars that Canada has been in and Canadian troops have risked all for. I began to develop a truer appreciation of Remembrance Day. The poppy became not just an article to be worn but a badge on my chest that said that I recognize how much has been sacrificed for my freedom, and that I acknowledge that some people will never be coming back home.

Tears began to form at the Remembrance Day ceremonies, as the stories of anguish and lost friends were shared, and the Last Post rang out true and resounded in my heart. The transformation from blindly following as a child to truly taking time to understand what sacrifices were made for my way of life and my freedom was one that was met with an open mind and a new sense of humility. The transformation when I came to the Royal Military College of Canada was even more profound. The stories changed from being about strangers, and began to be about friends and colleagues.

I have spoken to many friends and seen the sadness and worry in their eyes as they speak of their fathers, brothers, sisters and their friends who are deployed or serving military members right now, risking their lives every day:

Every year on November 11 there are ceremonies commemorating the fallen soldiers. Like each and every person at the ceremonies, I would watch the veterans tell their story and I would feel my heart go out to each of them. In more recent years, however, that feeling changed when my father was deployed to Afghanistan. It changes the perspective of Remembrance Day; you are no longer looking at the fallen, but the fallen family. It makes you extremely sad but it also makes you extremely proud to know what they left behind. Each and every person who has fallen in battle is now someone you can relate to and the ceremony seems to have that much more gravity. Your family member could have died. Having a member of your family in the military does change how you see this day. In a word you become sympathetic and I wouldn’t change a thing. –

Ocdt (26338) Ross

The stories are not of far off wars in times before I was born. They come from teachers, friends, staff members and speak of appalling circumstances and great sacrifices. Remembrance Day becomes even more important as the faces of those who are out in the world today risking their lives are suddenly alive and familiar. The poppy takes on a personal meaning, one that is different for every person:

Porter le coquelicot nous rappelle tout le sacrifice qui a été fait pour protéger et servir notre nation. Il nous rappelle que malgré toute la douleur ressentie, l’abandon n’était pas une option. Il nous rappelle aussi la paix, mais surtout il nous rappelle le sacrifice commis pour maintenir cette paix. Il faut alors porter le coquelicot rouge et être fier de ceux qui nous protègent. Se souvenir est la fierté d’un peuple.

Élof (26454) Boily

Remembrance Day means something new and different to each person in this unique world. To personally understand my own emotions surrounding Remembrance Day, I underwent a long journey filled with a growing sense of respect, awareness and compassion for those who not only have given their lives for their people and country, but continue to do so right now, at this very moment and risk everything. The phrase rings truer than ever before in my heart, “At the going down of the sun and in the morning, We will remember them.”Laurence Binyon.

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