On Sunday, November 11th, across the country and around the world, we will stop to observe a moment of silence and pay our respects to the many brave women and men who served, and continue to serve and protect our country in times of conflict.
Through the First and Second World Wars, the Korean War and all of the conflicts that have followed, we have seen hundreds of thousands of Canadians bravely step forward to fight and defend our freedoms.
My grandfather, Adolph Vetsch, was one such individual. Enlisting around 1941, he went through basic training in Edmonton before serving as an airplane mechanic, splitting his time between Claresholm, Alberta and Trenton, Ontario. He was required to fly test flights of the planes he repaired before they were returned to service. While his experience was not on a battlefield, and did not include a monumental tale of valor, it led to a fear of flying that plagued him for the rest of his life.
My mom, Teresa Cartmell (nee Vetsch); me holding my first born son, Justin Cartmell; and my maternal grandfather, Adolph Vetsch.
So many courageous individuals lost their lives or had their lives forever changed because of their service. They sacrificed greatly, to give us the liberty to pursue lives of our own choosing, without fear or oppression.
It is easy to become circumspect when we consider our world today. One wonders at times, if we have lived up to the ideals held by my grandfather and his generation. And, if the level of discourse and debate we see today would find approval of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for Canada. Personally I feel compelled to uphold, in any way I can, the freedoms they fought to preserve: the freedom to speak respectfully, to assemble peacefully, to worship without persecution, to love unconditionally and to live in peace.
It is our responsibility to remember the gallantry and selflessness of these countless Canadian soldiers. It is vital that we remember those who volunteered, sacrificed, fought and died for our freedom - often not because they wanted to, but because they felt they had to. We must continue to recognize and honour their service and the impact it has on our lives every day.
Consider taking some time this weekend to wear a poppy or attend a ceremony, but more importantly, take time to pause, reflect, remember and thank our veterans and active military personnel.
Lest we forget.