Every year, on Remembrance Day, we pause to honour the sacrifice, the courage and the extraordinary service of our veterans. We pause to say thank you, for what they have done for our country and for what they still do.
It’s been 75 years since the end of the Second World War. Our veterans won many battles at great sacrifice. Over 43 000 Canadians died. Many more came home wounded and carrying psychological scars from years of conflict, something that wasn’t talked about much at the time.
I’m happy that I made it through what I went through, because I left many behind, especially at Caen. We lost so many friends and think of them often.
We remained friends for life. We were family. I attended every one of their funerals, from New Brunswick to Vancouver. We got to know their families, and they got to know ours.
I discovered then that we are all the same. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world. We laugh over the same things. We cry over the same things.
It is something that you get used to, your friends dying and your acquaintances getting killed in some way very horribly.
I was only 17 when I enlisted. I passed for 19. At 17, you don’t think about the danger. You don’t think about much.
We had 20 tonnes of explosives in the plane. Our plane was hit, then went up in flames. That’s where I lost my leg. I always did my best in the moment, making decisions. It’s all you can do.
I was acting platoon commander. So I was just a kid myself, really. All of a sudden, I look around, and there’s all these little kids, that had been hidden for years because if the Germans had found them, they would have punished them. But to look around and all these smiling kids, it was one of the best days of the war for me.
We’re called the Caring Canadians. I think that’s a wonderful legacy to have. I have found it to be so true.
Sometimes I was so frightened I could hardly see, sometimes. I don’t know what courage is, really. It’s being scared. Being scared, and yet doing your job, even when you’re afraid.
We didn’t think about being heroes. It was a bit of an adventure.
We’re fortunate to be Canadians. And I don’t think that we realize it. We take it for granted.
Best country in the world. It’s worth doing everything we can to protect it.
So over the years, we have told our story, and I think Canada does very well in commemorating the World War II. And I never miss a Remembrance Day service, and I always march.
We remember them.
Today and always.