Residents of the Powell River area have been wearing poppies in the weeks leading up to Remembrance Day as a way to remember and reflect on who is responsible for the freedom they enjoy every day.
Throughout the previous century and continuing into the early stages of this millennium, Canadian men and women have made sacrifices for their families and compatriots by joining the armed forces and protecting our country.
In addition to previous and current peacekeeping missions in many areas around the world, Canadians were present during the World War I, World War II, the Korean War and more recently in Afghanistan from 2002 to 2011.
Thankfully, for those at home, those battles were fought overseas. The vast majority of Canadians have only witnessed war through the stories that ensue, whether in books, on movie screens, or recounted by those who experienced the real thing and lived to tell about it.
After more than four years of war, at 11 am on November 11, 1918, World War I, came to an end. Nearly 61,000 soldiers from Canada paid for the freedom of others with their lives; another 172,000 returned home with injuries. 12 young men from the Powell River region left family and friends to fight overseas and never returned.
In August of 1945, six years of war came to an end when Japan surrendered to allied forces. World War II resulted in the deaths of more than 60 million people worldwide, including military personnel and civilians killed during the war or by the disease and famine that followed.
Of the 43,600 Canadians killed during battles, invasions or training, 54 were soldiers who called the Powell River area home, either since birth or after moving to the community for work or family reasons. More than 1,000 men and women from the area served in one military capacity or another in WWI or WWII.
During the Korean War in the 1950s, 516 Canadian soldiers paid the ultimate price and lost their lives, and more than 1,500 were wounded. 158 were killed in Afghanistan, in addition to more than 1,800 who returned home injured. Since 1948, 130 Canadian peacekeepers have been killed.
The sacrifice of those who didn’t come home while serving their country is overwhelming to think about, but the others who did return carried/carry a burden for the rest of their lives, sparing us fortunate enough to live where and how we do from experiencing the horrors of war firsthand.
We all share a responsibility to pass down history. Our children will be taught, so they can teach their children, and a lesson can be learned.
Lest we forget.