Horne: Courage of our veterans deserves our gratitude

The many experiences of war that we can only read or watch a movie about leaves us not really understanding the sacrifice it takes.

Today is Remembrance Day, a time to remember our veterans.

I wrote about giving and stewardship in my last column, and there is no better example of that than the men and women who have put their own needs aside to step up and fight for the cause of freedom and liberty for all of us.

My father was one of those brave men. He signed up to join the army and head overseas early on after the Second World War II began.

He never liked to talk to us very much about his experiences. I know there were some very difficult memories, as the strain still showed on his face whenever I asked him about it.

He was a captain, and the responsibility of taking care of his men during those challenging times weighed heavily on him. The guilt was very evident as he told me about a day that he woke up very sick and there was a gunning drill that he was to participate in.

A good friend of his ended up filling in for his position and the gun malfunctioned and killed him. It seemed to me as he spoke of it as though he thought that it should have been him instead of his friend who died and the feeling of guilt that he survived because of a twist of fate bothered him immensely.

The many experiences of war that we can only read or watch a movie about, or listen to someone in the military tell a story of what they saw leaves us not really understanding the courage and fortitude that this type of sacrifice takes.

My heart goes out to the many mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, wives and husbands who have had to suffer the loss of someone they loved deeply and were left to go on without the future joys and pleasure of having that person with them throughout the journey of their lives.

Something I know my dad held dear was the relationships that he formed during his time in the army with the men who fought alongside him.

There is probably no deeper connection than bonding with others who would put their life on the line for you with a selflessness that shows the wonder of the human spirit.

I am always amazed at the stories now documented of the bravery and generosity of those who found themselves in the vicinity of the New York City twin towers during 9/11.

So many stories exemplified how fear can be overcome when another’s needs are put before your own. It defies our logic, but it is an action of valour and giving that perhaps we don’t even know until confronted by circumstances that call for it.

These events that seem so tragic, dark and terrible, also seem to hold the possibility for such moments of light, love and connection.

In my work with seniors, I have had the privilege of caring for veterans who have carried on their service through work with the local Legion.

Attending funerals of their fellow veterans and honouring them in death for the service they had exemplified through their lives, was something that I saw them do so proudly and with such generous hearts.

So today is a time to remember and to show our respect by putting our veterans and their families first. To take some time from our own hectic lives filled with “to do’s” and give some moments to those whose lives were forever changed because of the generous giving of themselves to others.

Perhaps you could offer your help to a veteran who may not be able to get to a Remembrance Day service or just call someone and say thank-you for their service or for their loss.

A simple act of kindness in whatever form that requires you to put someone else’s needs above your own, displays your gratitude in a very meaningful way.

Our veterans deserve it and we have the freedom to give it.

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven: …A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.” Ecclesiastes 3:1