By Pat Stier, United Conservative Party MLA for Livingstone-Macleod
This year marked the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War. The “war to end all wars,” led to the mobilization of more than 70 million military personnel worldwide, including more than 650,000 men and women from Canada and Newfoundland; over 66,000 gave their lives and more than 172,000 were wounded.
Canadian soldiers shouldered a significant burden in this conflict, fighting in many significant battles. Perhaps the best known took place at Vimy Ridge. Historians and political leaders alike have argued that this battle was the place where Canada truly became a nation.
Remembering the courage and sacrifice of the soldiers who served at Vimy Ridge, and a thousand other battlefields around the globe, is a duty we can be proud to accept. Unfortunately, and despite our best intentions, it seems that our knowledge of basic military history is waning. For example, according to a recent poll by the Vimy Foundation, when presented with a photo of the Vimy Memorial in France just 16 per cent could identify it, down from 19 per cent in 2017. It should be easy to recognize, many of us carry a picture of it with us every day; as it has been depicted on the $20 bill since 2012.
This is why it has never been so important for us to support organizations like the Royal Canadian Legion. In addition to serving our veterans, they work with our schools to bring a different perspective to students. They have the ability to go beyond the impersonal dates and statistics to spark children’s imaginations, helping them to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be Canadian.
It has been said that in the trenches of the First World War, soldiers would read Psalm 91, also known as the Soldier’s Prayer. It became a sort of sacred oath they recited daily. Here is just a part of it:
“You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.”
There is no doubt that the soldiers who fought for our country, in the cause of freedom, faced horrors beyond our reckoning. It was only through their courage and by their sacrifice that these horrors did not come near us. For that, we can never thank them enough.
It has been 100 years since the First World War ended on Nov. 11th, 1918. While this year’s Remembrance Day services have ended, and we turn our attention to the Christmas season ahead, I would ask you to keep a thought for our nation’s veterans and soldiers presently serving at home and around the world. Respect their courage, honour their sacrifice, and embrace their legacy. When we do that, every day is Remembrance Day.