We cannot forget them

My uncle Ron posted a picture of Private Ronard Kleven of the 78th Battalion, Winnipeg Grenadiers, taken in November, 1918 on Facebook this past week.
Ronard was my mother’s father. My grandfather, James Alexander, whose family had immigrated to Canada at the turn of the 20th century, was a medic in the Great War.
It was my uncle’s way of remembering his father’s commitment to his new country, Canada.
My father was a navigator with the Canadian Royal Air Force during the Second World War.
Today, many of those living veterans of the Second World War are well into there 90s. Fewer each year make it to the cenotaph on Remembrance Day to remember their fallen comrades.
We have veterans from many wars who we should take time to remember. Canadians, for instance, participated in the Second Boer War in South Africa.
Throughout the “Cold War,” Canadian men and women were stationed in Germany.
Canada committed naval and land troops to the Korean War. The South Korean government recognizes all of the nations and the soldiers who died in that conflict.
Over the years, Canada has contributed peacekeeping troops in Cypress, the Republic of Congo, the Sinai, the Yugoslav wars, Haiti, the Central African Republic, Sudan, and Darfur.
More recently, Canada committed both its navy and troops in the Persian Gulf and Afghanistan.
At home, Canadian troops have been involved in the Manitoba floods, keeping the Trans-Canada Highway open through British Columbia, patrolling our coastal waters, and battling Ontario forest fires.
We often think that the veterans we are honouring are those who fought in shooting wars.
When the Afghan war made the news almost weekly with the announcement of deaths of Canadians, we responded to the understanding that war had serious consequences to families in Canada.
Today, more than 950 Canadian personnel still are stationed in that country training the members of the Afghan army.
Since the move of Canadians from active fighting to training, deaths of Canadian soldiers has almost disappeared from our radar.
But Afghanistan still is not a safe country for our troops. Families with mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters working and living in Afghanistan live with the fear of losing a loved one every single day of their deployment.
Often times, the peacekeeping or the humanitarian work of our armed forces goes forgotten.
Yet all of the service people throughout our nation’s history have helped define who we are and project Canadian values to the world.
Our military forces have protected us in times of war and in times of disaster.
We cannot forget them.
This Monday, we can take some time to remember Canadians who have protected Canada both at home and abroad.
More than 3,600 soldiers, sailors, and air force personnel are posted somewhere beyond Canada today.
We all should take time to say thank you to them and all the other men and women in the Canadian Forces.

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