GUEST COLUMN: The importance of Remembrance Day

A Summerland veteran reflects on what Nov. 11 means to him

I have been asked on numerous occasions as to what Remembrance Day means to me.

I have served more than 40 years in the RCAF and over the years, my thoughts have evolved into the following.

To me, it is a time to recognize and remember those veterans who lost their lives doing their duty in the service of their country.

A veteran is a person who has signed a cheque in the amount of and up to their life in the service of their country.

Veterans are not only those who served during the World Wars but also in Korea, and numerous peacekeeping missions all over the world such as the Middle East, Bosnia, Cyprus and recently Afghanistan.

They have been employed on numerous domestic duties as well providing support during national disasters such as flood control and fighting forest fires.

Even though most of my career was here in Canada, I was posted to Egypt as part of the United Nations Emergency Force.

Although a relatively safe tour, there were incidents that were life threatening.

In particular, on one night driving back from Cairo to Ismailia. The Egyptian army used to move armour and equipment in the dark in order to hide their assets.

There were no lights, the asphalt on the road had no lines, and their vehicles were not lit up.

Coming around a bend in the road, we came inches from slamming into the side of a Russian tank with a bunch of Egyptian soldiers screaming and hollering and waving their weapons.

We got out of there as quickly as we could.

Another issue that our military faces is deployments away from home during special holidays.

Christmas is the worst for those deployed away. You miss your family and children and loved ones terribly and the heartbreak felt is almost unbearable.

One instance that really hit home was doing a Remembrance Day ceremony in a lonely World War II British cemetery just a few miles from our base in Ismailia.

It was not very big but while paying our respects, I noted the age of those boys — and I mean boys — that were buried there. They ranged in age from 18 to 22.

I was 26 at the time and I realized that they probably never had the chance to enjoy what a full life could give them.

I have lost friends during my service and as I remember the good times we had, I particularly think of the families of these friends who have had to undergo the pain and sorrow of perhaps losing a son, father, mother, daughter way before their time.

Their sacrifice should never be forgotten and the sacrifices that have been made by both veterans and their families should never be forgotten.

To me it is important as a nation that we do not forget those who have served and those who are serving.

I remember and shall always remember.

Lest We Forget.

Mike Brazeau, CWO (Retired) is a member of the Summerland Legion.

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