Friday, November 9, 2012

Remembrance Day–The Courage to be … Ungrateful??

It was with some surprise and disappointment that I noticed an article in the Edmonton Sun citing that children are permitted to opt out of Remembrance Day ceremonies for religious or personal reasons.

I was intrigued by this but thinking I was perhaps being oversensitive to the article, I tweeted Brett Wilson, noted businessman, philanthropist and supporter of our troops.

His response tells me that I didn’t overreact at all.


What followed from other people did surprise me.

Only a few people had the courage to comment publicly, with many sending me private messages and emails.  This public response stood out.


That’s right – apparently it takes courage to choose to be ungrateful to the brave men and women whom we’ve never met and who have paid or may pay the ultimate sacrifice.

The men and women who answer the call and lay it all on the line literally so that we can live a life of freedom.

Freedom to be inconsiderate or ungrateful to those who bought us our freedom with their lives.

I don’t think the brave soldiers who were pinned down on the beaches of Gallipoli suddenly said “Wait a minute, guys.  Shouldn’t we decide what’s in it for us first?”

The men who stormed the cliffs of Dieppe or the beaches of Normandy didn’t stop and reflect on the hope that someone at home might be grateful for what they were about to do.

The boys in the trenches of Europe, racked with dysentery, typhoid fever, trench foot, lice and everything else didn’t go on strike to demand better working conditions.

The pilots who flew into harms way on every sortie or the brave people who served in the Navy on the storm-tossed ocean fraught with danger didn’t do it to earn recognition for bravery.

The men and women serving in Afghanistan and Iraq aren’t demanding red carpet treatment.

They serve for the love of their country.

They serve so that their country and the world will continue to be a strong, safe place for the generations to follow.

If I am a devout Christian and an atheist saves the life of my son, I don’t say “I’d love to thank you but I can’t because I disagree with your religious beliefs”.

If I am a Democrat (or Republican) and someone of the opposite party does a great deed for me, do I deny them gratitude because of their political stripes?

If I am straight (or gay) and someone of the opposite persuasion saves my Life, do I say “Thank but not thanks” because of our differences of opinion regarding sexual orientation?


I say thank you – with all my heart and soul.

And by the same token, we can be anti-war / pro-peace and still express gratitude for the people who have sacrificed everything to protect our freedom.

The brave men and women who have served and continue to serve do something that most of us would never have the guts to do ….

… to put their lives on the line with no gratitude or reward expected in return.

They not only sacrifice themselves on the battlefield but they come home and struggle with what they have witnessed, experiencing nightmares that haunt them for the rest of their lives.

Many live in poverty, abandoned by the system that they fought to protect.

So to refuse to remember those who have died or been maimed so that we can be free just because some can’t seem to separate the acts of gratitude and remembrance from the glorification of war aren’t expressing anything that takes courage.

They are expressing ignorance.

And for all the values that our brave men and women strive to preserve by creating a safer world for us, I don’t think the values of ignorance and ingratitude are on the list.

I am grateful for them every day …. not just on November 11th or on Memorial Day.

Find a vet and thank them for everything you have.

It is the least we can do for those who serve so unselfishly and so courageously.

Lest we forget.

In service and servanthood,


PS This moving song by fellow Newfoundlander Terry Kelly, A Pittance of Time, captures the essence of the need to remember.

Terry Kelly–A Pittance of Time


  1. As a 26+ year vet of the CF I want to say thank you for this. No one asks to be thanked and I can tell you that everyone I know in the CF considers it to be just part of their job and are happy to do it. For me I am grateful to be able to make a difference and to hopefully make the world a better place to live. I have had many people say thank you and I am glad this is more frequent than those who show their lack of support. We will continue to soldier on no matter what:):)

  2. Thank you for your kind words and for your service, Rick.

    We are blessed and privileged that people like you choose to serve your nation with honor, courage and selflessness!

    Create a great day, Rick!