Growing up, Remembrance Day was important to me. I honored the day, as a holiday, a day to wear a poppy and watch a Remembrance Day ceremony on TV.
But Remembrance Day in 2009 was different. I went to a Remembrance Day ceremony with my family. My little brother (and when I say little brother, I mean younger, he’s a big guy), Karl, had joined the army in 2007 and he was scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan on November 12th. It was at this Remembrance Day ceremony that I understood what it felt to have a loved one go to war, what it must have felt like for the families to send their husband, wife, brother, sister, son or daughter, off to war, not knowing what would happen. I admired Karl’s courage and bravery but deep down I wished he wouldn’t go. Warren and I were staying at my Grandpa and Grandma’s house that night, so we could say goodbye to Karl the next day. I cried. I sobbed actually. I was scared.
Karl served in Afghanistan until April of 2010. One of my favorite days of my life is his homecoming. He was the last one off of the bus, so we had the privilege of seeing many families reunited. I witnessed Dads meeting their babies for the first time. I’m tearing up just thinking about it, and how happy it was. But not everyone came home. And that is why we remember. To honor those who gave their lives for the freedom we have in Canada, and to show our gratitude for those who served and those who continue to serve.
Karl joined the military in 2007 and still serves at CFB Suffield. He says that he joined the military to help, to protect the innocent and fight the bad. I asked Karl who inspires him. He said that both of our grandpas and parents. He said that they taught him to be kind to everyone, no matter what they look like or where they come from.
He doesn’t talk about Afghanistan much, at all really, but I’m sure Karl saw things no human should ever have to see, and do things that no one should have to do, like carry your comrade’s casket. But when he joined the military he knew that there were kids all over the world who couldn’t help where they were born, kids who see the horror of war every day. He knew there were and are so many innocent people being treated so badly.
So now, Remembrance Day is so personal and important to me. I want our kids and the generations to come to remember the sacrifices that so many people made, those back home who loved and prayed for their soldiers, those who were able to return, but who may be physically and mentally scarred, and especially those who died fighting for our country.
Karl, thank you for your service.
Lest we forget.