I am a daughter of a WW2 veteran, and the niece of a WW2 vet who was part of the greatest invasion of World War 2: the June 6, 1944 D-Day invasion of the beaches of Normandy, France. As we approach Remembrance Day the 7oth anniversary year of D-Day is remembered for its incredible coordination of 155 000 Allied troops, including 14 000 young Canadians who fearlessly stormed Juno Beach under heavy fire. Imagine the deafening noise of artillery, the smoke, the courage and determination of the Canadian troops who took hold of Juno Beach that day. Outstanding bravery and poise amidst chaos and danger. My uncle and dad were only in their 20’s at the time, just kids from the prairies who became veterans of war before they were even 30 years old. Their service turned their lives inside out; and when they came back to quiet little southern Alberta, they must have been very different young men. In their day, veterans were hailed as local heroes, and they continued to proudly wear their uniforms in the Remembrance Day parade to the cenotaph as long as they could. Growing up, there was never a question of whether or not I would go to the November 11th service with my parents.
There are so few World War 2 veterans left any more – all we have are media documentaries – but what always strikes me is the deep emotion displayed by men have been asked to record their war experiences in these productions. As they reach into their memories, the elderly eyes begin to tear up as the emotional accounts of war, comrades, pain and loss come to the surface, even 70 years after D-Day. Pride is visible, but is it tinged with a fear that their message of honor, valor and peace be lost in the dusty archives of history? This unsettling fear was put to the test recently, with the shocking events of violence on Parliament Hill. Images of Canadians gathering around the Ottawa War Memorial, the flowers circling the monument, the impromptu singing of ‘O Canada , the streets lined with citizens waiting to escort a young soldier home – and the poignant scene of the Korean war veteran staunchly standing guard at the Vancouver cenotaph – rain soaking through his worn uniform, honoring a fallen comrade (http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2014/10/23/vancouver-cenotaph-veteran-guards_n_6036924.html) are all images of a nation which, although shaken, was quick to rise as one. The outpouring of support all across Canada for our military speaks to the pride we feel in the sacrifices they have made for freedom, and we won’t forget.
We believe that truly honoring our veterans is more than attending a Remembrance Day ceremony, being shocked at the intrusion of violence in the heart of democracy on Parliament Hill or even being thankful for those who have fought for our freedom. It’s all about continuing their work for peace in the world, our country, our community, our homes, within our hearts. In fact, in the words of Pope Francis “…we must shout out for peace. Peace sometimes gives the idea of quietness, but it is not quiet, it is always an active peace.” (http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2014/07/28/pope_francis_gives_interview_to_argentinian_newspaper/1103580)
What better way to honor our veterans, to build our country, and to grow in our faith. This Remembrance Day and every day, for my dad, uncle, and the many veterans all across Canada, continue the mission of peace. In fact, SHOUT for it!