Please Remember them All…
My Canadian Brothers and Sisters in Arms came in all shapes and sizes. Their skin colour varied. They spoke many different languages. They believed in their chosen faiths. But in the centre of all that diversity, there was always one single common thread … they loved this country and what it stood for then, and what it needs to stand for now.
They loved the peace we have enjoyed inside of our borders, and the sacrifices this country has made to keep the peace around the world.
They loved the freedom that every citizen has to chart his or her own life path.
They loved the intrinsic kindness and justice and tenacity and empathy and humanity that makes us who we are.
They understood that Canada was not, and will never be, perfect. But the time spent outside of our borders confirmed one thing … Canada is the very best imperfect country on the planet.
They fought, and sacrificed themselves for these things they believed in. Things they believed to be just and right. They served this country with honour, and integrity, and dignity, regardless of their native language, or their skin tone, or their religion.
And when they left their homes to fight, or keep the peace, their families prayed to their gods for the safe return of their son or daughter. No matter what gods they prayed to, sometimes those prayers were left unanswered.
On a chilly Saturday morning on St. Anne Street, in the middle of a beautiful town in the greatest country in the world, I stood quietly, surrounded by the most open and decent and accepting community that I have ever been a part of. Beside me was my Brother in Arms, who served multiple tours in Bosnia and Kosovo, saving lives, keeping the peace, but sacrificing pieces of his soul to the cause every single day. As I listened to the ceremony I was struck with a troubling question. Should his service be appreciated any less than mine, simply because he is not a Christian?
While general words of faith and spirituality are a part of any ceremony that remembers people who have died for their country, scripture and dogma from any one religion do not belong. In a ceremony honouring people of all the faiths and shapes and sizes and colours that paid the ultimate price serving this great country we call Canada, we should remember them as simply this: human beings who loved this country and the peace and justice and equality for which it stands.
Captain Biff Jones, RCAF (Retired), St. Albert