The first time I heard this song was a day or two before Remembrance Day 2007. I was in a classroom in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu with my platoon in Basic Training. Some of our instructors played the video for us.
Our platoon was one of the first to include non-commissioned soldiers who had been accepted into the officer training program, so we had a bunch of guys who had served in Afghanistan, the Balkans and elsewhere. They had already lived through the shit and naturally we all looked up to them.
When the video ended, there were a lot of tears in the room—many from what history books would refer to as “battle-hardened soldiers” or something like that.
Every so often—not only on Remembrance Day, but perhaps especially then—it is important to watch something like this or listen to In Flanders Fields or read the stories of individual soldiers in the many wars our country has fought. You may not agree with the politics of each war, but the sacrifices made by regular Canadians in the pursuit of the freedoms we all enjoy deserves to be remembered and honoured.
Even in times of peace, soldiers and their families make enormous sacrifices that the rest of us don’t often see.
When we talk about places like Vimy Ridge and Juno Beach, proud moments in our country’s history, we cannot forget the cost of those battles. In the four days it took to capture Vimy, for example, 3,598 Canadian soldiers were killed.
That’s 3,598 families, in just four days of a four-year war, finding out that their father or brother or husband or son was not coming home.
Since Confederation, more than 100,000 Canadian soldiers have been killed serving their country. More than 100,000 families have received that awful news, some more than once. And, sadly, more will die in the future.
Today, and every day, we remember them and we thank them.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old.
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.
– from For the Fallen, by Laurence Binyon