The importance of remembering

Reflecting on remembrance and the idea of courage after the events surrounding Remembrance Day.

When you pick up your paper today, many of you will have witnessed a Remembrance Day service. Maybe you even participated in one.

They’re sombre, moving affairs that don’t change much over the years, and there is a comforting sense of tradition and ceremony in that, which we don’t often get in many other areas of our lives.

They services are only about an hour of our time, but they’re an important hour, as they teach us the importance of remembering the people who have served our country, those who currently serve our country and also the families of the men and women who wear Canadian flags on their uniforms.

I went to my first For King and Country Veteran’s Dinner in Ladysmith on Saturday night. It’s a touching, thoughtful evening put on by the Ladysmith Rotary Club and the Ladysmith Legion. The spirit of remembrance is all around, as our veterans are provided a meal, and one Ladysmith-area resident who lost their life in service is recognized during the Empty Chair ceremony.

During the Empty Chair ceremony, Mayor Rob Hutchins addresses the fallen serviceperson — this year, Flight Sgt. Lionel Harry Williams of Saltair — and tells their story. It’s not a pretty tale, but it’s an important one to tell.

During the dinner, guest speaker Master Cpl. Tim Peebles, who serves with the Canadian Forces School of Search and Rescue, shared a number stories of Canadians’ courage and determination in battle. He said some interesting things about what he calls Canada’s fighting spirit. While he spoke about this spirit in the context of battle, Peebles describes our country’s fighting spirit not as a spirit of conflict, but as a spirit of determination and overcoming adversity to do what you believe is right.

Courage and Canada’s fighting spirit aren’t reserved for those in uniform, but the men and women who serve our country often exhibit those qualities. They did during the First World War, and they did while serving in Afghanistan and while serving on peacekeeping missions in our more recent history. And, at this time of year, we remember.

— Lindsay Chung