This morning we bundled up the kids, pinned on our poppies and headed down to Portage and Home street in Winnipeg, like we do every November 11. It is there that The Royal Winnipeg Rifles hold their Remembrance Day service. We have been going to this service for years, partly because it is very family friendly and partly because Dude likes it when they fire their weapons.
I love to look around at the 200 or so people who attend every year. It is a very diverse crowd that gathers to pay tribute. There are always dozens of young families, plenty of mature couples and even several dogs and their owners who huddle together against the snow and wind. We come together for half an hour once a year to remember and honour the Fallen Brave.
This year, more so than previous years, it hit me that today is not only about the men who served and died decades ago. It is also about the young, very young, people who serve now.
Recently I was in a church service in our town where a young soldier was being recognised before his deployment to Afghanistan. I didn't know this young guy but I wept as his youth pastor spoke. He talked of seeing a mischievous young boy grow into a man of integrity, honour and compassion. He shared stories of how this young man worked long hours at summer jobs so that he could afford to go on mission trips, how he was a natural leader among his peers and a true hero in our community. What touched me the most was when people who had watched this boy grow into a man stood and flooded the stage area to surround him and his family in prayer.
I realised then that the decision to serve is not only about the soldier but also about the families and communities that release and support them. So today as I stood in the midst of this crowd, surrounded by family, strangers and servicemen, I prayed. I prayed for wisdom, guidance and safety for all of those who are serving. I prayed for peace and comfort for their families and I prayed that we would never forget that it is the individual men and women who willingly give up the comforts and familiarity of home to ensure peace, protection and freedom for us all.