I was fulfilling my reporting duties by attending and photographing two Remembrance Day ceremonies last week — one at Eckville High School, the other at the Sylvan Lake Lodge. I love my job, but that day out of all days, I experienced a real light bulb moment.
Both ceremonies were beautiful and paid due respect to veterans and fallen soldiers. But it wasn’t until I met Ken McBlane, a WWII veteran, at the Sylvan Lake Lodge that I was hit by the reality of what Remembrance Day is truly about.
After our conversation, I am now even more motivated to commemorate Remembrance Day and show my respect to veterans and fallen soldiers. Remembrance Day is an opportunity for me to personally thank them.
At the Lodge’s ceremony, I stood and listened to the solemn music playing, and my mind took me back in time.
I imagined Ken as a young man and working in an office, as he told me he wasn’t on the front lines, but was still serving in the war. I then imagined myself wearing a nurse’s uniform and looking after men who had been wounded in combat.
The war would have been in every aspect of people’s lives: No matter who you were, you were affected by it somehow.
Being a 29-year-old woman, my husband would have been sent away to fight. For contact, I would have had to rely on receiving precious paper letters sent all the way from the trenches. How precious it would have been to receive letters telling me that my husband is still alive.
I imagine I would have had at least two kids, but these kids would have been growing up living with Grandma and Grandpa while their mother (me) was serving as a nurse to show her allegiance to her country. Who knows when or if I would see them again?
Now, I will admit right now that I literally can’t imagine what that would be like as I do not have children. I can only speculate the horrors that would be brought upon a mother who is ripped away from her own flesh and blood because she is forced to put her allegiance to her country first and foremost, and above her family.
When I finally came back to reality, I realized that I owed the man sitting beside me a huge thank you. And that’s exactly what I told him.
I owed Ken a huge thank you for not only my freedom, but for being brave and helping to make this country as great as it is.
With a new awareness of what Canadian life was like during the war, I want to express my gratitude to all veterans and fallen soldiers who sacrificed more than I could ever dream of.
Thank you for providing us with a country where we are free to be ourselves, dream big and reach our personal aspirations.