When many of us think about Remembrance Day, our memories shoot back to the Second World War, when Canada and its allies stormed the beaches of Normandy to crush the Axis powers threatening Europe and the world.
It’s been over 65 years since the last “great war” came to an end. And that was probably the last time Canadians had a war they could rally around. This was a war the soldiers could ostensibly be proud to fight against an enemy so over-the-top it wouldn’t be out of place in the pulpiest of comics.
Thankfully, we haven’t had a war like the Second World War since 1945. But that is no reason for Canadians to forget about our veterans and the support they need.
Canada suffered over 1,500 casualties in the Korean War. From the end of the Korean War until the war in Afghanistan, we became primarily a peacekeeping nation. But, though our soldiers were peacekeeping, they’re still in war zones and still in danger. Since 1969, we’ve lost 116 Canadian peacekeepers.
There are more than 2,800 Canadian military personnel in Afghanistan and we’ve been fighting there since 2001. Even if you don’t support the war, it’s important to show your support for Canadians who are fighting over there.
Seven days a week, wounded Canadians are flown in C-17 cargo carriers from Afghanistan to Landstuhl, Germany, for treatment before they come home.
For the estimated 1,500 soldiers who’ve taken the flight to Germany, the battle isn’t over. There are months, if not years of rehabilitation to contend with, and a new life to adapt to. Many can no longer be soldiers due to injuries sustained in battle, but for many, being a soldier is all they know.
Ex-veteran ombudsman Pat Strogan said the Conservative government has raised the burden of proof for veterans’ disability payments, making it hard for wounded soldiers to survive once they’ve left the battlefield. When these soldiers get home, they shouldn’t also have to fight with their own government for benefits.
Today, the youngest Second World War veterans are around 81 years old – these vets aren’t going to be around forever, and there will come a time when we will have only our records to remember that war.
Now more than ever, it’s crucial for Canadians to honour war veterans. Not just the ones we get misty-eyed about and remember in sepia tones, but the ones that are fighting now.