Wednesday, 04 November 2015 16:38

Sacrifice was great; the ‘Never Forget’ message has withstood the test of time

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While social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr are often mocked for being a haven for people to put nothing but pictures of their children, pets or provocative shots of inebriated friends and family, once in a while they will get it right.


Every so often, a saying or message will come up about something of importance to everyone.
One such message chastises us as a community for those types of aforementioned frivolous pictures yet we can’t retweet or share pictures of a vet or message of thanks to veterans of war and their families or affiliated groups.
While that is often true — media is definitely milking the fun and frivolity photos — it should be remembered that with the help of the Royal Canadian Legion, the War Amps, and school boards, appreciation for what our grandparents and their grandparents did is still alive and well today.
It’s heartening to witness not only the traditional services and guest speakers who come into schools around this time of year, but there are other ways memories and respect is kept alive.
Take for instance Nov. 2, when in Swift Current for the first time, larger-than-life handmade poppies were tied to Memorial Drive road signs leading in and out of that city by members of the Royal Canadian Legion. Swift Current Mayor Jerrod Schafer also hoisted the flag proclaiming the start of Veterans’ Week.
There is also a national push to celebrate the Centennial anniversary of former soldier John McCrae’s immortal classic In Flanders’ Fields — a poem generations of Canadian students have studied and memorized in social studies, English and history classes for years.
The Royal Canadian Legion has had some rough patches as an organization as memberships decline. In mostly smaller communities, Legions have suffered due to the fact rural populations have dwindled and the age of a lot of those who were strong supporters and advocates have gotten older.
When it looked like there were times the Legion was going to implode, Canadians got behind the cause and still supported them any way they could, remembering not only the ultimate sacrifices soldiers made in all of those wars, the Korean conflict and recently in the Middle East, but also how the local Legion has supported their own communities through scholarships, donations and local charitable organizations. 
Ordinary Canadians are still protective of their veterans. When the previous government was accused of not doing what they could for veterans (i.e. killing lifetime pensions, closing Veteran Affairs offices, reacting to a 2014 Auditor General’s report on the federal government failing veterans in health and mental health care to name a few), Canadians expressed outrage and it wasn’t ignored. (For more on that see the website at:http:// thetyee.ca/Opinion/2015/08/19/Conservative-Attacks-Canadian-Veterans/).
Canadians still wear a red poppy and when a push was put on in 2013 to have a white poppy which would symbolize peace, this was seen as an insult to the symbolic nature of the red poppy and those who died protecting freedom. The white poppy, while having a seemingly unarguable stance of wanting world peace, was seen as infringing on soldiers’ day of respect. There was a push back then for the idea, but now count how many white poppies one sees today as proof on how far that idea travelled.
When some lowlife inevitably decides to steal money from a poppy box, the public reacts with disgust or even when businesses choose to not allow a poppy box to be placed at the front counter, it’s frowned upon.
One current disagreement on social media has people angry that Christmas decorations are being put up before Remembrance Day is over. It is funny how far reaching this sense of tradition lies.
Really, there is no false bravado or non-realistic sense of patriotism. Europeans know all too well the importance of Canadian soldiers.
European countries such as France, England and especially Holland have all taken special care and initiative to celebrate contributions Canadian soldiers have made to liberation and having kept those countries free from hostile takeover attempts. They celebrate with great pride and thankfulness the role of Canadians.
At their expense, Holland has had Canadian soldiers visit their country to see war memorials and cemeteries amid huge gratitude celebrations at battle sites.
The Netherlands has also sent thousands of tulip bulbs to be planted at the Canadian Parliament every year as a symbolic show of respect and thankfulness.
Despite the controversial lack of technological and equipment upgrades, Canadian soldiers are still counted on today to act as peacekeepers in many countries or have taken part in missions in the Middle East.
It is important the federal government respects what these soldiers have done and while many of them are gone, we as Canadians must remind ourselves how important it is to have a strong military, if not for our own sovereignty but at the very least to help maintain peace in the world. That includes helping past soldiers and their immediate families as much as possible and ensuring current soldiers get as much training and have access to equipment that is safe if not at least up to date.
Hopefully the government and its policies reflect the respect ordinary citizens have for their soldiers. All one has to do is look at the quality of the entries to this year’s Royal Canadian Legion literary and poster contest to give hope that the tradition of understanding the history and knowledge to appreciate what these brave women and men did for this great and free country we call home remains intact.
Ryan Dahlman is managing editor with the Prairie Post. Contact him with your comments  at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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Ryan Dahlman

Managing Editor