We need only think back a few weeks to remember soldiers like Private Blake Williamson (The Royal Canadian Regiment) and Sergeant Shane Stachnik (Canadian Military Engineers) and only a few months to remember Captain Nichola Goddard (Royal Canadian Horse Artillery). Their faces are still fresh in our memories; we still remember their voices; we shared a joke, a task, a hug, maybe just a nod of the head last time we passed them; they were so full of hope and life so short a time ago. The emotional wounds suffered by their families, friends and fellow soldiers are still raw.
For others the wounds are older but no less painful. The names are less familiar to many but there is someone still who feels the loss. Their names are listed, in volume after volume, in the national Books of Remembrance in the Peace Tower in Ottawa.
For more than 120 years Canadian men and women have been fighting and dying on battlefields on several continents. For every Paardeberg, Vimy Ridge, Battle of Britain, Ortona and Kapyong there were a dozen less famous but still bloody and costly battles – at sea, in the air and on the ground. Canadians fought and died in Africa, Asia and Europe, in the icy North Atlantic and under a warm Mediterranean sun – some are buried in Hong Kong, others in Belgium, many have no known grave.
Sometimes Canadians scanned their daily papers anxiously, hoping against hope that they would not see the name of a husband, son, niece, neighbour or friend on the all too frequent casualty lists. Sometimes Canadians barely heard about the deaths of soldiers; other times the media dwelt too long on each death – searching for or trying to manufacture a bit of controversy from the very real grief of friends and family members.
On November 11th many of us will pause, just for a few moments, to remember Private Braun Scott Woodfield (killed in a vehicle accident in Afghanistan, 2005) and Lieutenant Colonel William Nassau Kennedy (died of disease suffered while serving with the Canadian Voyageurs in the Nile Expedition, 1885) and more than one hundred thousand other brave Canadians who have made the supreme sacrifice for their country, for their service, for their family and friends and, above all, for their brothers in arms.
Ruxted will take time to remember our fallen, with gratitude and with some small pride in what we, Canadians, have done with the opportunities those brave men and women bought for us, with their lives. We invite all Canadians to pause, just briefly, on 11 November, at 11:00 to share that pride and gratitude.
They shall not grow old as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.