England had been at war since July of 1914 and, as Canada was a Commonwealth country, we were also a part of what they called the Great War.
As one of “Tobin’s Tigers,” he was deployed to the western front and subsequently lost his left arm at the Battle of Hill 70 in France.
It has always been my belief this loss, combined with the hardships of homesteading in northern Alberta and the horrific memories of his ordeal in Europe, contributed to his early demise.
I regret never having had the opportunity to get to know him and spend time with him since he was the reason my grandmother came to Canada and began our family history here in this wonderful country.
Less than two decades later we were once again engulfed in a global conflict.
My dad, many of his brothers, a favourite aunt and my father-in-law all served in the Royal Canadian Armed Forces but spoke very little about their experiences.
When they did, it certainly brought home to me the incredible individual challenges they faced and the tragedies and loss they witnessed.
Perhaps they hoped we would remember World War II killed more people, destroyed more property and shattered more lives than any other war in history and we would have learned not to repeat this.
But battles, aggression and offensives continue.
Today, we have veterans from other more recent conflicts in Korea, Bosnia, Afghanistan, Kosovo, Iraq, and the Middle East.
Daily, there are soldiers killed or injured in these conflicts. Canadians went, and are still going, to war-torn nations because our troops believe in the protection of freedom and democracy and it is worth fighting to preserve.
Last month, six Canadian CF18 fighter jets left ColdLake with all their support personnel to join the international combat mission against extremists from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
It never ends. And now we have had attacks on soldiers here on Canadian soil — something we never expected to have to face.
In Quebec, a serviceman was killed and another injured by a suspected jihadist terrorist in a hit and run confrontation. And, most recently, Corporal Nathan Cirillo was shot twice in the back while standing guard (with a rifle that was not loaded as policy requires) beside the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at our National War Memorial in Ottawa.
The gunman then proceeded to the Centre Block of Parliament, where security forces put themselves in harm’s way once again to restore peace and safety to the population there.
We all reacted with shock and disbelief as bloodshed and death was brought to members of our military.
These are sad and tragic events both in our capitol city and in our country as a whole. We are known throughout the world as negotiators and peace keepers and to have any group call for direct violence against our soldiers is almost beyond our understanding.
I hope I never take for granted the courage and dedication of our service personnel that gives me the wonderful life I have.
We must all remember and be grateful. Wear your poppy with pride and thankfulness this November.