Growing up in Canada, sometimes we forget how fortunate we are. The freedom we take for granted and the happiness that comes along with it. However, every year on November 11, the entire country is reminded of that good fortune when we take time from our day to day hustle and honour our fallen heroes – the men and women who have given their lives in service to our country. The Canadian Bureau of Veteran’s Affairs states that more than 2.3 million men and women served our nation since World War I and more than 118,000 have died in service.
In Calgary, a variety of events are held during the official Veterans Week, which are the days leading up to Remembrance Day. Throughout the week, respected veterans, elected officials and current members of the armed forces give their time to speak at events across the city at schools, community events and for other military organizations. Taking part in these events is a great way to show your gratitude and respect for the sacrifices they made to keep the peace in our country and around the world.
Calgarians always show their support at these events, using it as an opportunity to reflect on the cost of freedom. One popular event is the Field of Crosses. Each year, more than 3,000 white crosses are displayed along Memorial Drive to symbolize the roughly 3,000 soldiers from Southern Alberta who have died in action. Their website, fieldofcrosses.com, shares the story of the many soldiers and lists their names, ranks, regiments, date of death and age of death. Every morning beginning on November 1 they hold a sunrise flag raising ceremony and host a special Remembrance Day service at 10:45 a.m. on Nov. 11.
Other events held in the city include the Central Memorial Park Remembrance Day Service. Known as Calgary’s oldest park, on November 11 city officials welcome the public to remember fallen soldiers in front of the First World War statue (located in front of the library) and the Boer War Memorial equestrian statue. There is also a formal service at the Military Museums that takes place outside of the museum. Visitors can show their support by bringing a non-perishable food item to donate to the Veteran’s Food Bank. The ceremony includes music, speeches and the laying of wreaths. Afterwards, enjoy a tour of the museum where admission is free for the entire day.
It is important that we take the time to honour and celebrate Remembrance Day every year. As we go on with our daily lives of work or grocery shopping or travelling, let’s not forget that all those actions came at the cost of many, many soldiers. Our fellow Canadians made the ultimate sacrifice in order to defend our freedoms, and it’s important to recognize that with respect and gratitude as we have reaped the benefits of their ultimate sacrifice.