Monday, 11 November 2013

Lest We Forget: Remembrance and Veterans Day

Remembrance Day has always meant so much to me. Though my family doesn't have a gallant military history, I have grown up learning of the incredible daily sacrifices our armed servicemen and women give every day. 

St. John Ambulance cadets remembrance day
Circa 2001 (approx.)

Every November 11, I participated in the Remembrance Day parade in my area. As a cadet with St. John Ambulance I marched alongside veterans and those currently serving in the Canadian Armed Forces. I heard their stories and saw how much they and their families gave up for me to have opportunities. I want to honour them in always remembering.

In America, today is celebrated as Veterans Day. On Friday, Justin's high school honoured veterans by presenting a very powerful Veterans Day program. Being Canadian, I was excited to learn more about American traditions. I heard the military songs and saw the flags for all five branches (Air Force, Navy, Army, Marines, Coast Guard). The students dressed in military attire and presented poems, stories, and songs relating what it means to be an American hero. The most powerful moment was the honouring of the veterans in attendance. Over thirty minutes was spent thanking each veteran in attendance for his or her service. It was beautiful. 

Marine Corps flag

student holding Marine Corps flag

student in army gear thanking veterans

students sing patriotic songs

American Flag at Veterans Day program

Military branch flags

I found a local Veterans Day parade and program to attend today. My mother-in-law and I braved the cold to watch the veterans, boy scouts, and bands march down main street towards the war memorial. A ceremony followed the parade and began with all in attendance facing the West to pay respect to the honoured dead. (I had never heard of this tradition but later learned we face westward toward the setting sun as a representation of their setting lives.) The high school band played the national anthem followed by the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag. Stories were given of local men who bravely served their country. I was pleased to see that Americans also lay wreaths in memory of their local veterans. I learned a new appreciation for the US and Americans themselves by seeing how reverently and respectfully they remembered.

Doughboy statue honouring veterans

Base of veterans memorial

Inscription of doughboy veteran memorial "Erected to the memory of our gallant sons who endured the hardships and fought our nations battles. Erected Nov. 11, 1924"

Memorial erected by Mt. Pleasant citizens

Dougboy memorial listing the first five American wars

Memorial listing American wars. surrounded by american flags

Memorial listing most recent American wars
Notice Grenada. More info on that war here

WWII insignia

Veterans marching down main street with American and legion flags

Fire station band in Veterans Day parade

Veteran on green motorcycle

Boy scout troop in Veterans Day parade

Boy scout in Veterans Day parade

Mt. Pleasant High school band

Marching band flag girls

Brass section of marching band

Wreaths to be laid at war memorial

Memorial to Marine Corps at Iwo Jima

Marching band near war memorial

Mt. Pleasant Mayor speaking at Veterans Day program

Veterans saluting the National Anthem

Trumpeter playing taps to honour fallen soldiers

I remembered today. This is not my land nor these my veterans but their fight has given me the freedom to honour them. And so I do today.

And to you current service people, thank you. You are not forgotten.