BY KERRY TOWLE, MLA
On November 11, Canadians stand together to remember the sacrifice so many have made throughout the decades to protect our freedoms. World War I and World War II changed and shaped the world we know today. Since then, Canadians have served honourably all over the world, including in Korea, Africa, the Middle East and Afghanistan.
It’s hard to imagine a more difficult circumstance than the trenches of World War I, in which our nation’s young men lived and fought for years. In the First World War, 650,000 brave Canadians served and fought, and 68,000 made the ultimate sacrifice by giving their lives to protect the freedoms of others.
In World War II, Canada emerged as a formidable maritime force. With a strong navy and accompanying merchant marine, they were the lifeline that kept Britain alive to fight through the blockade it faced. Canada established itself as a world-renowned pilot training hub, producing the pilots who would prove to be pivotal in turning the war around for the Allies and eventually earning victory. More than a million Canadians served and 47,000 died fighting for freedom in Italy, Hong Kong, France, Holland, Belgium and Germany.
After World War II, global tensions erupted again in Asia in 1950. In the Korean War, about 26,000 Canadians served and over 500 died.
In recent years, Canadians have served and fought valiantly to protect these same freedoms we cherish in Afghanistan. Thousands of Canada’s fighting forces have conducted combat and humanitarian missions in this beleaguered country, and have pushed back against extremism and terrorism to make way for democracy and fundamental human rights.
Around Remembrance Day every year, we wear the poppy to honour the contributions our veterans have made. The Poppy campaign supports the great work of Canadian Legion branches here in Alberta and across Canada. I encourage everyone to wear the poppy and to attend a local service on November 11.
Many soldiers who have served Canada over the decades have returned with injuries that affect them for the rest of their lives. To these freedom fighters, I say thank you. Canadians are eternally grateful for your contribution to our peace and freedom.