On Remembrance Day, we pause.
On Nov. 11, 1918, while huddled in a railroad car in the forest of Compiegne, an armistice agreement was signed between Germany and the Allied countries. This agreement brought an end to the battle on the Western Front and signaled complete defeat for Germany and total victory for the Allies.
Ninety-nine years later, we pause to remember that day and all that it means for us.
We pause to remember the brave Canadians who selflessly served our country. They died for us, for their belief in freedom, for their homes, for their families, for their friends and for the future they knew was possible; they died for Canada – our home.
Though 100,000 soldiers died, in reality, no one was left untouched by the impact of war. Every man, woman and child, regardless of age, ethnicity, marital status or social class, was impacted. Sons were killed. Wives were widowed. Fathers were wounded. Those who were fortunate enough to return alive had the dark memories of war forever seared into their minds and physical wounds that matched the internal scars upon their hearts. Life was forever changed for those who went and for those who stayed. War does not discriminate when choosing its victims.
We pause to remember the cause for which our soldiers fought. Those who chose to serve did so for the sake of freedom. In the words of King George VI, Canada’s brave soldiers held to the conviction and belief that “without freedom there can be no ensuring peace and without peace, no enduring freedom.” It is for freedom they went. It is for freedom they fought. And it is for freedom they gave their lives.
We pause to remember the gift we’ve been granted because of their sacrifice. Those who served believed their actions in the present would positively shape the future and they were right. By remembering their service and their sacrifice, we honour the freedom they preserved for the generations coming after them; the freedom we enjoy today.
We can often take for granted the freedoms we’ve been gifted: freedom of conscience, freedom of religion, freedom of belief, freedom of thought, freedom of expression, freedom of the press, freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association. We forget that we are free to be our truest selves because of the women and men who bravely fought to keep impediments to freedom outside of our borders.
We pause to remember the responsibility that has been placed upon our shoulders. We have been commissioned by those who sacrificed their lives to protect and preserve the freedoms we’ve been granted. Within society, we are each called to take responsibility for our thoughts and actions and the way they impact those around us. We are each responsible for stewarding our freedom in a manner that is honouring to others. We need not agree, but for freedom to flourish, we must allow others the right to hold diverging views.
Today, we pause to remember Canada’s heroes: the remarkable soldiers who believed in freedom and who were willing to pay the ultimate price for our benefit.
On this Remembrance Day, I wish to honour the women and men in the Lethbridge riding who have served our country and those who continue to serve. Thank you for your selfless acts of valour and for enduring hardship and risk so that we might live in peace. I am grateful for your courage and dedication.
To those who have lost loved ones, I join my heart with yours and honour you for your sacrifice.
Lest we forget.
-Rachael Harder is the Conservative MP for Lethbridge.