Newsletter – November 2010

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November 2010 Newsletter for Seniors on Vancouver Island

National War Memorial, Ottawa

The following article was written by Colonel (Retired) Jon Ambler OMM CD and it will form the basis of a presentation that he will make to the pupils at Courtenay Elementary School at their Remembrance Day ceremony on November 10th 2010. Colonel Ambler has very kindly submitted this article to Seniors 101 to be used as its November Newsletter. For further information about Colonel Ambler visit our Island Voices section.

Remembrance Day 2010
Comments for the Courtenay Elementary School

Principal Stewart, Teachers, Students of Courtenay Elementary School. It is my privilege to join you today as we have gathered, as Canadians, to remember. I spoke to your assembly last year, and I was very impressed with the thoughtfulness and dignity of your ceremony; well done!

But what makes us Canadians? It is not simply a matter of living in the geographic area called Canada, or enjoying hockey, or complaining about the weather, or drinking Tim Horton’s. I believe that what makes us Canadians is our shared belief in freedom and democracy, our natural desire to do the right thing, the urge we feel to end suffering and injustice and oppression. We believe in the values of Canada, and we have a willingness to defend it. Canadians have been described as not necessarily military, but military when necessary.

You children sitting quietly here today are among the most fortunate people on earth. When you were born in Canada, or became Canadian by emigrating here, as I did, you really won the lottery. You live in one of the best nations on earth, with rights and freedoms and a quality of life second to none. You have a home, you can attend good schools, walk along safe streets, have medical care when you need it, and you get to eat every day. We are the envy of most other nations.

We Canadians have a shared belief in the worth of every individual and that each and every one of us is entitled to dignity and the full protection of the law. We have the rule of law, based on a written constitution and a charter of rights. We commit to democratic principles of freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, the idea of a free press that can observe and criticise and be our conscience. We are free from unfair search, and arrest and imprisonment. We are free to select our government, through a secret ballot. We live free from fear and oppression or prejudice because of our gender, race, colour or religion. Many, many others on earth enjoy none of these freedoms.

During our history Canadians have felt so strongly about those beliefs and values that they considered that giving their life for them was an appropriate price to pay.

When Imperial Germany invaded neutral nations in Europe, plunging all of Europe into the First World War, which lasted from 1914 until 1918, Canada and Canadians said this is not right, this must be opposed. Never forget that 67,000 Canadians died to end that aggression.

When NAZI Germany, Fascist Italy and Imperial Japan chose to act like evil bullies, to invade their neighbours, bomb their cities, enslave or exterminate the people and steal their resources Canada and Canadians said no, this we will not tolerate, this we will fight. Never forget that 42,000 Canadians died to restore democracy and freedom during the Second World War that raged from 1939-1945.

When the Communists threatened freedom throughout the world, and in particular by invading South Korea, Canadians stood up, joined with other democracies, and said no. When terrorists attacked and murdered innocents in office buildings, such as the World Trade Center, Canadians said we will fight back. We seek to restore peace and stability and freedom and the rule of law, in the Middle East, in Africa, in Haiti, in Central America, in the Balkans and, right now in Afghanistan.

Today we have gathered to talk about remembrance. The First World War ended on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. For that reason, each year at that moment, at 11 AM on November 11, we stop whatever we are doing and pause for two full minutes of silence to reflect on the heroism, mourn the sacrifice and remember the price paid for our freedom.

Freedom isn’t free, your and my freedom was paid for by the sacrifice of those Canadians that went before, and in particular by the young men that gave up everything, their whole future, to preserve our freedoms. When you look at the veterans on Remembrance Day you will look at old men, but you must remember what they did as young men. The vast majority of Canadians that fought and struggled, and too often died, were young, very young, most were straight out of High School.

Your responsibility is to treasure those freedoms. Your responsibility is to exercise those freedoms: be involved, care about the country, vote in every election, speak up, write letters to the editor, watch for erosion of our hard won freedoms, and take advantage of the opportunities to learn.

Finally, your responsibility is to be grateful, your responsibility is to remember.