When you’re younger, making your way through elementary school, then middle and on to high school, the weight of Remembrance Day does not fully register with most.
The events that took place are usually only understood as stories and dates that we rehearse until we remember them, able to recite them for our tests and presentations. We take pause to mark the day of November 11th with assemblies, moments of silence, the playing of the haunting hymns of the bagpipes and the reciting of In Flanders Fields.
But it is so much more.
Even through adulthood, some are still sheltered from the true meaning of the sacrifice made by those who choose to sacrifice self for country, sacrifice self for community, sacrifice self for generations of family that they may never meet.
Personally, the first time I feel I began to understand the weight of it from a third party perspective, was the reaction of the USA to the September 11th attacks when soldiers were stationed overseas. It made it somehow more real, more vivid. It was a war – whether agreed with or not – thankfully carried out off of home soil, taking place in my lifetime.
I remember understanding even more when a good friend of mine bravely told me he wanted to train and apply for the military. While I ran with him willingly to help him train for the physical portion of his exams, I remember thinking that I wouldn’t know what I would do if he was called to war in our lifetime, if something were to happen to him because of his chosen sacrifice.
That is what makes it so much more.
It’s the vow to country of the person who speaks it, but it is also the wife, the husband, the mother, the father, the grandparents, the children, the siblings, the friends that remain. It’s the unwavering determination of the soldier to serve and protect, but it is also the support of each person behind the soldier, waiting back home, sacrificing what most Canadians are beyond lucky to call normal, everyday life, while separated from the person they love.
When soldiers were finally allowed to start coming home after the initial wave of reaction to the September 11th attacks, I rememebr the videos that began to circulate online of soldiers surprising and reuniting with loved ones. Watching the realization of the moment light up in the faces of children, wives, husbands, partners and parents, I feel like I got it even more.
It is so very much more.
The tears that filled my eyes, the lump of gratitude that welled in my throat, the ache that resonated in my heart for those people, in the anticipation of being in one another’s arms again, I could only imagine what it would be like to be the person waiting for the return of a loved one. While I can speculate based on the loss of life I have experienced, and separation from a loved one for an extended period of time I have endured, I cannot with all of my might fathom in words, thoughts or emotions the supporting cast of that soldier’s life might be feeling.
It is so much more.
It is with hearts of thanks for the sacrifices made by the soldiers that have fought to gain and maintain the freedom we have in Canada, and the loved ones that so bravely stood and continue to stand by them that we reflect on this Remembrance Day.
As we pay homage to the troops of the past who sacrificed to secure the freedom of our country and to the brave men and women who fight for and prepare to protect it today, please be sure to pause, reflect, and give thanks for the sacrifices made for the freedoms we take for granted daily.