Capt. Angus Topshee, RCN, Base Commander, CFB Halifax
Capt. Angus Topshee, RCN, Base Commander, CFB Halifax,

The Poppy has become a strong visual symbol of Remembrance Day. But, something more powerful and emotional is when we take the time to look into the eyes of the ever-shrinking number of veterans from WWII and Korea. It was their duty to defend the freedom we enjoy today. What they saw, felt and did, left a mark on their and our lives; permanently. Their stories and experiences that range from happy to horrific remind us of the price of freedom and the toll it took on our men & women. It is our duty to ensure that their legacy is preserved as a reminder of our freedom.

On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, we honour our veterans who have passed before us, are retired, or are currently serving our country. This year we commemorate the 100th anniversary of the First World War and the 75th anniversary of the Second World War. By recognizing their sacrifices, we can appreciate how our freedom was earned. Through toil in the air, on the land and on & under the seas, Canadian aviators, soldiers and sailors faced; and continue to face organizations that do not share the good values of a global society. Honouring the veterans of the past and present exemplifies the deep-rooted respect we have for their sacrifices in making the world a safer place. We have every confidence that Canadians will pull together with the kind of firm solidarity that has seen our country through many challenges. Together, we will remain vigilant against those at home or abroad who wish to harm us.lr4

We are especially reminded of the valour of our servicemen & women during this time of the year. Parades, ceremonies, candlelight vigils, free coffee to people in uniform on Nov 11, DND appreciation discounts at local businesses or sporting matches are splashed across all genres of media and people overtly show their patriotism by wearing the iconic poppy and attending events. But what about the rest of the year? Why does our appreciation and respect to their valour need to be concentrated in a two-week block?

November 11 does not need to happen but once a year. Have you ever considered joining a Royal Canadian Legion or volunteered your time at Camp Hill, the last home for many of our most senior veterans?

Today’s veterans: survivors of multiple tours of Afghanistan for example, are now being handed the torch from their predecessors; those who can no longer take up arms. They have done their time, their mission is accomplished. This generation’s duty will be to proudly carry that symbolic torch. And it will be through your pride in honouring them and your support to their families that will be the new legacy, the new way to honour the valour of their ultimate sacrifices.