Growing up in a military family, I’ve always been immersed in the military way of life. I was born in 1984, and I’ve lived through some pretty historic times in my short life as of yet.
Although I was just young, I recall watching Russian tanks in Afghanistan on the news, I remember watching on the news as a Canadian C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft crashed in the Arctic near CFS Alert. I watched American warplanes in the first Gulf War, and several other wars and conflicts. Who can forget the various terrorist attacks and the Rwandan Genocide, in which millions of innocent people were murdered.
During WWI and WWII, Canadian men took part and contributed to some of the greatest victories in wartime. Canadians helped take Vimy Ridge, Canadians fought hard on Juno Beach during D-Day, and Canadians also fought a very bloody war in the Italian and Sicily campaign, and as a result, Canada has had a very proud and very gallant military history.
In a time where the term “hero” is given to people like Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin, Wayne Gretzky, Bobby Orr, Gordie Howe, and Ben Johnson, we seem to have forgotten who, actual heroes are. While these names, may be called “role models” which is more appropriate, they, in my mind, are hardly worthy of the title of “Hero”.
Sadly, while we do still celebrate our veterans at Remembrance Day ceremonies, we still don’t do even close to enough for our true heroes, the names of our heroes are only known to people who want to preserve the history of our veterans. The names of men like Frederick George Topham, Ernest Alvia “Smokey” Smith, Robert Hampton Gray, Billy Bishop, Isaac Brock, Romeo Dallaire, John McCrae, and Georges Vanier along with so many countless others who, performed actions during wartime that displayed the fighting spirit and pride of the everyday Canadian that is all to common. Because of their heroic actions and fighting spirit, some of these brave men never made it home, but they were decorated with some of the highest decorations a soldier of the Commonwealth could be decorated with, and a very small few returned home with decorations displaying their courageous actions in the face of danger and putting the lives of their fellow brothers-in-arms before themselves.
In a time where we’re looking at people as heroes for how many home runs they’ve hit, how many strike outs they got, how fast they run, or even how many goals they got. What we need to focus on is giving credit to where credit is due and keeping the honour of these true heroes who died overseas during the First and Second World War, and to those who have served elsewhere in the various conflicts around the world, leaving their loved ones behind, to help fight against evil and safeguard the lives of people who do not have the ability to defend themselves.
The men and women of our military will always be some of the greatest heroes I can think of. I always remember why I am able to live the life I do, and am able to go where I wish, because people fought, and died for my ability to do so.
Keep these men and women in your thoughts and prayers all the time, and remember why we have the freedoms and liberties that we have. Its because of these people that we don’t have to worry about being killed because of our eye colour, hair colour, skin colour, religious beliefs, or even our sexual preference.
I always remember the veterans, and hope that you do too.