Why should we remember on Nov. 11th?
We remember because between 1899 and 1902 approximately 7,000 of our nation's soldiers served in the South Africa War; 267 gave their lives in battle.
We remember because in the First World War (1914-18)-- by far the bloodiest conflict in which our country has ever been involved-- about 650,000 Canadians and Newfoundlanders crossed the Atlantic Ocean. Nearly one out of of every nine-- a total of 69,000-- didn't survive.
We remember because in the Second World War (1939-45), one million troops from Canada's armed forces waged war on the sea, in the air and on land to strike down the systematic genocide of the Holocaust. More than 47,000 of these soldiers never saw their loved ones again.
We remember because during the Korean War (1950-53) nearly 28,000 Canadians served in the Canadian Army Special Force with 516 paying the ultimate sacrifice.
We also remember because in 59 years of Canadian peacekeeping missions, more than 150,000 Canadians have served abroad, with 155 losing their lives-- including 42 alone in Canada's four-year mission in Afghanistan.
All tolled, our nation has sacrificed more than 117,200 of its sons and daughters in the name of freedom and peace.
We should remember because in the last 107 years more than 1.8-million Canadians have voluntarily put their lives in jeopardy in an attempt to bring peaceful conclusions to global conflicts.
We remember those who died on the field of battle; we remember those wounded in action; we remember those scarred psychologically by having witnessed the carnage, the inhumanity and the horror.
We remember their bravery. We remember their sacrifice. We remember that it is because of them that we enjoy one of the best standards of living in the world and live in a nation free from war in our own backyard.
With all but a handful of Canada's First World War veterans gone and more than 200,000 living Second World War veterans unlikely to be with us a generation from now, few children born today are likely to have an opportunity to meet a living veteran from the two largest conflicts Canadians have fought in.
While it would be naive of us to expect a world free of conflict, it is essential we remember these past battles so that we never lose sight of war's toll on humankind.
It is our duty to honour our ancestors' sacrifice, by promising we will never forget.