Thursday, November 12, 2015

Thanks from A Grateful Nation

Remembrance Day in Canada and Veteran's Day in the US are both celebrated today.  Every year November 11 makes me think of the differences between my two countries.

The US relationship to it's military has been one of ups and downs.  My generation, among others, was coloured by the antimilitary attitude of Vietnam, but also by US service since then around the world and pride in our troops for serving and defending us even when we don't always agree with the mission.

Canada has no such baggage.  Canadians are proud of their service and will happily speak of Canadian tenaciousness in serving.  Their reputation for bravery is well-deserved.

In Canada, today is a day of all those who serve, but the focus is usually upon the World Wars, certainly on those no longer with us, especially those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.  It was a time Canada stepped up to the plate and gave so much more than could have been expected.

In Canada I appreciate the seriousness of the ceremony. I don't remember attending an annual ceremony on Memorial Day until I was affiliated with the military. Sometimes there were parades. Sometimes just a moment of silence. Here, I do not miss a ceremony, usually attending the one at the kids' school. This year was dedicated to those family members who served, and many did have grandparents and great aunts and uncles who supported the war efforts. It connected the kids to the day in a way I never was.

But on this day, I miss the separation of Memorial Day and Veteran's Day.  It's not enough for me to simply remember.  In the US, today is the day I say thanks to those still with us.  It is a time to celebrate those who wear the uniform, whether actively serving or retired. It is a day for celebration, because we have another day.  Memorial Day is the day for remembering those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. And I believe those serving deserve and need celebration. They deserve a national party that proclaims, "We know freedom is not free, and we THANK YOU!"

And so, November 11 leaves me struggling and sad.  I am sad for those we lost.  I am sad for all those left behind.  I am sad for the feeling that we are losing a national resource in the vets of WWI and WWII.  I am sad that I feel we do not take enough time to thank those continuing to serve today.

It's now the day after, November 12. Poppies are gone until next year. But the feelings shouldn't be. Don't forget. If you see a vet or a soldier, it doesn't matter that it's November 12. Say thank you. They need to know you care.