It has been reassuring to see the reported increase in sales of poppies to mark Remembrance Day- a symbol of thanks to those who have fought and lost their lives on behalf of our country and citizens. I suspect, however, that many of us have mixed emotions about why.
I think often of our students celebrating Remembrance Day at school each year. They are blessed with an education that ensures they are both informed and engaged in understanding the sacrifices our men and women in the armed forces have made for our country- and yet, in many ways distanced from our past and the realities of war- that is, until this year.
When Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent and Corporal Nathan Cirillo were killed earlier this month- targeted because they were members of our Canadian Army- the reality of the lives and the role of our military personnel seemed to hit home. These blatant acts caused outrage, shock and sadness as most people, I think, consider Canada a safe and peaceful place.
When news of Corporal Cirillo’s death spread, I received an email from an American colleague. She said, “I think we think of Canada as being immune to violence – certainly to the scale your neighbors south of the border experience, which makes this all the more shocking. I am sorry for how this surely impacted your communities.”
I, too, am sorry about the impact these deaths have had on the men’s families and on our communities. I have been heartened to see the galvanizing of a country to ensure that our service men and women who have lost their lives are remembered for their sacrifices by the younger generation as well as the old. I am just sorry that it has taken these tragedies to remind us of the importance of remembering.