In just a week, Canadians will gather in communities throughout this country of ours to pay tribute and honour those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.
At cenotaphs, with heads hung low, we will stand in silence remembering those who fought in the First and Second World Wars, in Korea, in Afghanistan, Bosnia and other conflicts in which Canadians took up arms to ensure the rights and freedoms of others.
But, remembrance and paying tribute to veterans isn’t something that we, as Canadians, should leave to just one day a year.
We could all take a lesson from Three Oaks Senior High School teachers Dave Chisholm and Kelly Power, who, for the past several years, have guided students at the city high school in honouring our war dead and those veterans who returned home from overseas.
Each year, a different group of students is tasked with researching the story of a veteran, either someone in their family or, if there is no family connection, someone in the community who fought for their country.
The lessons learned and the impact of such a project has been immeasurable and long lasting, with some student participants saying they never truly understood the impact of war and the sacrifice made until they learned, through these veterans, their stories.
And, later this week, the latest group of students will take what they learned with them as they travel to Europe and, for 10 days, walk where some of the men and women they researched walked.
They will visit Vimy Ridge, cemeteries where our war dead lie and, on Remembrance Day, Essex Farm where the poem “In Flanders Fields” was penned so many years ago by John McCrae.
It’s an experience that few of us will have and that these students, those who will continue to carry the torch of remembrance, are fortunate to have, thanks to the leadership of Chisholm and Power.
For those of us unable to take part in such a trip, there are things we can do here, at home, to honour our veterans.
Helping or donating to the poppy campaign is one easy way. All funds collected go to aid veterans, their families and provide bursaries.
But the easiest way for us to honour our veterans is to simply say thank you, to, when come across a veteran on the street, to stop, shake their hand and thank them for making such a huge sacrifice for the freedom we enjoy today.
Each and every day, we must remember and honour them and ensure that once they are gone that they are not forgotten.