November 9th, 2011

Remember our Veterans – Canadian Veteran’s Week

Canadian Veteran’s Week begins every year on November 5th and runs to November 11th. This year there is a wealth of events being held across Canada to recognize the achievements and contributions our veterans have made over the years, and to honour those who gave their lives so that we could freely live our own. Veterans Affairs Canada is asking people to show appreciation for our military patriarchs with their actions rather than by their emotions this year. They have laid out what they call the “Remembrance Challenge”, and list a number of ways that we can demonstrate that appreciation. There are also a series of videos

One of the ways they suggest to show support and gratitude to our War vets is to listen to them talk about their experiences. This may not be possible for everyone, but it juggled my memory about several websites where you could listen to Canadian War Veterans speak of their experiences online. For those who may not be able to get to an event to listen to veterans speak in person, these sites are a great alternative. In fact there is a lot you can do online to meet the requirements of the remembrance challenge, and I will mention them as well in this Blog. First though, let me introduce you to some of the websites where you can hear our veterans speak of their wartime experiences, and then I’ll show you where you can show your appreciation online.

The first place is at Veterans Affairs Canada website itself, where over fifteen hundred hours of conversations with war vets have been recorded. On their Audio Archives page, you can listen to first hand accounts of individual soldier’s experiences in the First World War. Real life experiences of runners (messengers who kept communications with headquarters alive when signal lines were down), officers, medal winners, company clerks, even spies, can be heard and experienced. Listening to these accounts really drives home the sacrifices our veterans made, and the horrors and hardships they had to endure to preserve the freedom we enjoy today. There are also a series of videos available in their Multimedia Center entitled Heroes Remember, where you can listen to and watch veterans such as Mr. Marshall recount stories of loss and hardship, or the sadness veterans feel every Remembrance Day. In his own words:

"I enjoyed my stint in the army. I enjoyed it. It means everything to me. I sit there in that kitchen and I watch it and I think of all my friends who gave their lives and I think of all the other friends of mine who I soldiered with while I was over there, but mostly those. I lost a lot of friends over there. I lost a lot of friends over there. And I sit in the kitchen there by myself and I just, the tears just flow and I just can’t, I just can’t help it. And I’m sure that if they ever stop recognizing Remembrance Day, the populous would very soon forget about those fellows that lay in them cemeteries overseas there especially in France and Germany and Italy, Belgium, Holland, they’re all over there."

It’s very moving stuff, but our veterans deserve our attention, and we all need to be reminded of just what they did for us during the World Wars. There is no doubt in my mind, that after hearing these touching stories, you will want to express your appreciation for their services. You can do so by visiting the Canada Remembers Facebook page and posting your sentiments on their wall. There is much more material on Veterans Affairs Canada website such as diaries and letters written by young soldiers. It is the very least we can do to honor their brave service and courageous sacrifice. We must never forget these honorable men who fought and gave their lives for our country, and for the world. However you choose to remember them, remind others of what this week represents, and help to keep the memories of one of our most treasured resources alive.