Winston Churchill is remembered as the superb wartime leader of Great Britain. He mobilized not only an empire, but also the English language, and took them both into battle against tyranny.
“Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few,” he said famously, referring to the Royal Air Force pilots in the Battle of Britain, who had maintained air supremacy over the English Channel.
Today, with their numbers reduced by the progression of the years, but their memories of the war still vivid, we can say the same of all of our war veterans. We honour those who came home, some broken in body or in spirit. We remember those who did not come home, some known only to God.
Mere words are always inadequate to express our gratitude. But we remember still, in our minds and in our hearts.
At Remembrance Day observances I attended earlier this month, I spoke of my hometown of Arthur, which was called “Canada’s Most Patriotic Village” by the Toronto Star in 1942.
With a population of just 890, we had 126 residents in uniform. As a percentage of our population, we had the most men and women in uniform of any community like ours in the country. I spoke of my late father-in-law, Edward McCabe, who left the family farm near Arthur and enlisted in the Royal Canadian Navy just after D-Day, even though he was just 17. In those days, that kind of courage was commonplace.
I spoke of our veterans of Canada’s more recent wars. During the Cold War, my friend Ray Pearse served for 25 years in the Canadian Navy. His courage and dedication were shared by thousands of others who have volunteered in the Canadian Forces.
In peacekeeping, we remember the 114 Canadians who died on missions in Korea, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, the former Yugoslavia, Central America and the Caribbean. Wherever we were called by the world community to reduce tensions and keep the peace, we responded.
And in the recent war in Afghanistan, the 158 Canadians who made the ultimate sacrifice will never be forgotten by anyone who views the Portraits of Honour. Recently taken across the country, as a program of Kin Canada, this incredibly moving mural depicts the Canadian soldiers who gave their lives to bring security and civilization to that war-torn country.
We were reminded this month that our democratic freedoms were purchased at a high cost by those Canadians who served, fought, were injured or killed.
And we must remind others that our democratic freedoms continue to be secured by those who serve in a Canadian military uniform today. We pray for them, for their families, and for peace in our world.
Lest we forget.
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Wellington-Halton Hills MPP Ted Arnott welcomes comments. He can be reached at 1-800-265-2366. His website address is www.tedarnottmpp.com.