To all military personnel and their families, thank you for our freedom that you so unselfishly protect and for the sacrifices you make every day for all of us! We all owe you a debt of gratitude far deeper than mere words can express. On this Remembrance and Veterans Day, may we all wear our poppy and take a moment wherever we may be today at 11:00 a.m. to remember the brave men and women we have lost and those that stand before us.

This day holds a lot of meaning and memories for me and is a day close to my heart.  My father fought in Burma and my father-in-law fought in WWII with the US Coast Guard; my first husband was a proud member of the Canadian Armed Forces along with my brother-in-law and my nephew is a graduate of the Royal Military College. I will always remember and cherish the stories my father shared with my daughter when she was younger that allowed her to see what this day meant through his eyes.  I fondly remember how proud he was to march each year as a member of the Burma Star in the Victoria, BC parade with his head held high and his shoulders squared back come rain or shine.  I remember her wonderful father who cared fiercely about this great country of ours and showed it every day.  Some of them are no longer with us but we shall remember them and offer up thanks from a grateful nation and ourselves.

In Canada, the stretch of highway from Trenton to Toronto, Ontario, is called the Highway of Heroes and it is the route processions follow when bringing home a fallen soldier. This stretch of highway is where friends, family, normal civilians, soldiers, and veterans, etc., will line the overpasses to pay their respects to our fallen heroes. I have only stood on a bridge once and it was one of the most gut-wrenching scenes I have ever witnessed.  Ironically years later I ended up in a tow truck and when I looked at a picture on the dashboard of the drivers truck, it was a picture of the soldier I had silently offered up a prayer for on that bridge as the hearse carrying his body passed underneath my feet;  he was the driver’s cousin.

As we celebrate our freedom today, I would ask you to stop for a moment to remember and thank the brave men and women who support the freedom we so often take for granted.

Lest We Forget

In Flanders Fields by John McCrae, May 1915

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Here are a few statistics you may not know regarding Canadians and Americans who have served:

Canadians

World War I (1917-1918)

628,736 Canadians served

66,573 died and 138,166 were wounded

2,818 were taken prisoner of war

175 merchant seamen died by enemy action

World War II (1941-1945)

1,031,902 Canadian men and 49,963 Canadian women served

44,927 died and 43,145 were wounded

8,271 were taken prisoner of war

1,146 merchant seamen died by enemy action

Korean War (1950-1953)

26,791 Canadians served

516 died and 1,558 were wounded

33 were taken prisoner of war

The Gulf War

3,837 Canadian men and 237 Canadian women served

There were no Canadian casualties or prisoners of war during the Gulf War

Sources: Department of National Defence; Veterans Affairs Canada March 1992

Americans

World War I (1917-1918)

Total U.S. Servicemembers (Worldwide) 4,734,99

Battle Deaths 53,402

Other Deaths in Service (Non-Theater) 63,114

Non-mortal Woundings 204,002

World War II (1941 –1945)

Total U.S. Servicemembers (Worldwide) 16,112,566

Battle Deaths 291,557

Other Deaths in Service (Non-Theater) 113,842

Non-mortal Woundings 670,846

Living Veterans 1,711,000 (Estimate based upon new population projection methodology)

Korean War (1950-1953)

Total U.S. Servicemembers (Worldwide) 5,720,000

Total Serving (In Theater) 1,789,000

Battle Deaths 33,739

Other Deaths (In Theater) 2,835

Other Deaths in Service (Non-Theater) 17,672

Non-mortal Woundings 103,284

Living Veterans 2,275,000

Source: Department of Veteran’s Affairs, Office of Public Affairs, Washington, DC.