Remembering our war heroes

Another Remembrance Day has come and gone. Attendance at memorials and ceremonies is up this year, but what does the day really mean to us?

Originally created to mark the end of World War I, it is now an opportunity to recognize the ultimate sacrifice paid by Canadian veterans in both World Wars, Korean and many peacekeeping missions over the years.

However, only one Canadian veteran remains from the First World War and around 500 World War II veterans pass away each day. A generation that gave so much is slowly disappearing.

Al Armstrong, a veteran of the Second World War, recalls a passage off a war memorial which highlights their deeds.

They will never know the beauty of this place, see the season’s change, enjoy nature’s chorus. All we enjoy we owe to them. Men and women who lie buried in the earth of foreign lands and in the seven seas.

Remembering and honouring our veterans shouldn’t be a one-day occasion. They deserve more.

A new generation of veterans is being created right now with members of our armed forces serving overseas in Afghanistan and other conflict areas.

“Our troops in Afghanistan are not buried at the side of the road or some damn field,” Armstrong said. “They’re bringing them home and that’s a credit to our country.”

That final trip home has created impromptu memorial services as Canadians line bridges all down the newly named Highway of Heroes. Their route from Trenton to Toronto takes them through east Scarborough.

Conlins Road crosses the 401 and is a relatively quiet street. But the number of people who line the bridge pales in comparison to other towns and cities along the route.

Next time one of these heroes comes back, take a few moments and go out to that bridge. It’s not just the one soldier returning you’re honouring, but the thousands, even millions, who have served their country in the past, present and future.

Regardless of what you think of the war in Afghanistan, the men and women of our armed forces continue a proud Canadian legacy. So when you finally take that poppy off your coat, think for a second of the daily sacrifices our troops make.