Saturday, November 8, 2014

Honour our soldiers 365 days a year

A good friend of mine spent more than 20 years in the Canadian Armed Forces as a driver and heavy equipment operator.
He has been around the world, was stationed in Europe for six years, was asked to be part of a NATO unit and during the last few years of his career, he was sent to pretty much every major disaster, catastrophe and calamity Canadian troops were needed in.
It was not an easy career with long hours and a demanding schedule. One minute he would be at home, hanging out with his young son and the next, he would get a phone call telling him to be ready to deploy in one hour.
Sixty minutes later he was boarding a Hercules aircraft without any idea of where he was going, why he was going there or how long he would be gone.
But go he would – every time they called.
Not everyone could do a job like that. I know I couldn't. I am more a creature of habit and living under such conditions would be too difficult.
But he took it in stride and his unit of engineers, carpenters, mechanics, plumbers and other specialists would be ready to go the moment the phone rang.
“There was never a problem we couldn't fix,” he said with deserved pride.
He retired recently and after a brief stint of being a stay-at-home, full-time dad, he began to go a little wonky and decided to go back to work – sort of.
He takes the summers off and works a few days a week during the fall and winter months to supplement the family income.
The other day he called me out of the blue, the first time we had actually spoken in several years. We keep in regular contact through FaceBook, but it was good to hear his voice.
During our conversation, he mentioned he was delivering a tractor-trailer load of cups for a coffee chain. He was amused at how stressed out the people at the office were over the cups getting where they had to go.
“No one was shooting at me and there were no land mines to worry about, so it was not a big deal,” he said.
A statement like that makes all the stress I face on a daily basis seem rather pathetic.
Deadlines are a part of the newspaper business, but land mines were part of his business. Which would you rather deal with?
It makes me think about those serving in the armed forces and how much they sacrifice.
My buddy missed out on much of his son's early years because he was deployed to a flood, helping hurricane victims or wheeling his way through a war zone.
The men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces make those sacrifices every day. For those called to run out the door at a moment's notice to help where ever they are asked we owe a special bit of gratitude.
We set aside one day a year where we collectively and conciously thank all our veterans for their service and sacrifice.
It is wonderful to have a special day to honour our veterans and they deserve all the accolades hoisted upon them, but they serve 12 months of the year.
We in turn should honour our soldiers 12 months a year, especially now when they are being attacked and murdered on home soil.
If you see a veteran or soldier in coffee shop, pay for their cup of Joe, let them go ahead of you in the check out line or simply shake their hand and say Thank you.
It is the least we can do.

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