Why it is important to acknowledge and pay your respects on Remembrance Day

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Right now, there are approximately 90,000 serving members in the Canadian Armed Forces. There are also over 650,000 veterans currently living.

These people are as diverse as the duties they’ve performed in the service of their country. From providing humanitarian assistance to staring death face down the ramp of a landing craft off the shores of France, the men and women wearing the maple leaf on their shoulders have done it all.

As a student, I’ve read and written about some of the darkest times and places human history has to offer. Like most Canadians, that’s the extent of my experience outside the ivory tower that we call home. And make no mistake – for all of our many shortcomings, it is an ivory tower.

From up here, it’s easy to forget how rough the world can be outside because things are good. It’s been four generations since the Second World War.

For each year that Canada comes farther away from being active in global combat, the idea of what would be at stake if our way of life were to be threatened fades out of our consciousness. That’s because, in the ivory tower, we can sleep soundly. We can put forth new ideas and critique one another. We can stand up publicly for our beliefs. As Canadians, we enter this world with the birthright of choice: choosing the languages we speak, the people we marry, and the faiths we adhere to.

For each year that Canada comes farther away from being active in global combat, the idea of what would be at stake if our way of life were to be threatened fades out of our consciousness.

We are afforded the liberty to determine our own morals as we see fit, under the sacred premise that difference doesn’t have to equate to conflict.

But we don’t own the place. In fact, we don’t even have a long-term lease. Since July of 1867, the rent has been due.

And every month since, that rent has been getting paid by the men and women who venture out to do what needs to be done to ensure that the debt doesn’t fall to you or me.

So when the inevitable debates concerning poppies, politics and parades come across your social media feed, take a minute and consider that, when it all boils down, Remembrance Day isn’t about any of those.

It’s about recognizing and remembering the everyday men and women past and present who have stepped up to the plate to do the jobs that need doing, regardless of how difficult it is to do them.

Wherever you may stand politically, better people than you or I have put it all on the line in service of the country that represents the very best of what this world has to offer. It’s not perfect, and it might never be. But it’s damn good.

All you need to do is take a minute out of your day, and remember that what we have, how we got it, who paid the price for it, and that those people are still out there paying our rent day in and day out.

Lest We Forget.

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