Nov 12
November 10th, 2021

Dear CJP Families, 

We are fast approaching one of the most important days of the year. A day to remember and reflect. A day to appreciate the men and women who currently serve to protect our great country. And a day to remember those in the past who went off to war on our behalf, many of whom made the ultimate sacrifice. A sacrifice meant to keep Canada strong and free. A sacrifice paid for with blood and tears. But how can I explain this to my school-age children? How can I impress upon them the importance of this very special day? I'll admit it's a difficult task, one I should attempt.  

Here are some of the things I do to help my children understand the importance of Remembrance Day. I talk with my children through the year, not just around Remembrance Day. Perhaps this is easier for us as we have Great Grandpa's war medals proudly on display in our library. This kind of discussion tends to be very short, simple and matter of fact with my 9-year-old, but as she gets older I can really start to share some hard truths with her. Truths like the fact that in many different wars over the years, men and women went off to war for Canada. They left their moms, dads, wives, husbands and, in some cases, kids to trudge off to war. They left the comfort of their home for the cold, wet trenches and left the calm of Canada for the constant fear of war elsewhere. These people were likely afraid. Very afraid. They were likely cold and hungry sometimes. They endured seeing friends die right next to them. They went to sleep each night not knowing if it would be their last. And they did all of this for us. For you and me and all of our fellow Canadians. And we should be grateful. Not just on Nov. 11 each year, but every day.  

For my children, I try to make things personal, when possible. I tell my children about a friend or relative who fought for our country. I have a cousin who was in the services for most of his adult life. We often share his stories, especially when we see him. I tell them about their dad's grandfather who served in the Second World War, leaving his wife and two young daughters at home. He missed the birth of his third daughter, and met her for the first time when she was four! Great Grandpa was trained as a tank mechanic and served in Germany, Italy, and France. He returned home to Canada, wounded from a gunshot to the leg. While Great Grandpa has been gone for many years, he is still regarded as a hero in our family. I try my best to explain why we fight wars. I try to explain to my kids that Canada might be a very different place if our soldiers had not joined forces with other countries to fight against evil. I talk about why wars, though awful, are sometimes necessary. Our country might not have remained a place where people could feel safe holding true to their culture, religion and beliefs. This country could possibly be under totally different rule today.  

It took our soldiers, fighting alongside the soldiers of other brave countries, to enable us to continue to be the "true north strong and free." And I am grateful. Sadly, war still exists and I think my children need to know this reality. I will be sure to let my children know that there are soldiers from Canada who are in the line of fire today. They are on peacekeeping missions or are in war torn areas and they are in danger. They are risking their lives even now on behalf of our country.  

Finally, we always attend a Remembrance Day Ceremony. The last few years we have attended ceremonies at either the Field of Crosses on Memorial Drive or the Military Museum. This year, we will watch a ceremony on line, there are many being shared in this format to keep us all distanced and safe. These ceremonies are an amazing opportunity for our children to see the enormity of this day, the impact, and that others also remember. When I am at a ceremony, perhaps even when I watch one on-line,  and the enormity of what's been done for us falls upon me, then sometimes there are tears. Embarrassing for you, my kids? Possibly. But I will never be sorry or ashamed for any single one of those tears. The soldiers who fought gave up so much more than tears. They gave their lives. Their last breath, their life's blood. Their families gave more tears than enough.  

Never forget, the peace and freedom we have in Canada, we owe to those who came before us. Those who bravely fought to make sure no one could take it from us. Thank a veteran today, thank a person in uniform today, thank a senior and let's be so grateful for all they've done, for their sacrifice for our great country. 

Lest we forget. 

Dr. Bettesworth ​


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