As a Canadian and Member of Parliament, I am frequently reminded of the gravity of the sacrifices of the men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces, past and present. Freedom of expression, our democracy, and the ability to disagree are a few of the many freedoms that we enjoy because CAF members stood up to tyranny and evil. This year, however, the reality of what Remembrance Day is has been made more real as war once again touches the western world.
The conflict in Ukraine has called into question so many of the things that we have taken for granted over the last several decades. We see what Ukraine is up against, see the cost of war, and hear of the heroic acts and the perseverance of a people facing such devastation firsthand. We see how war changes priorities. Further, we can’t forget the open suggestions of military action against the democracy in Taiwan by leaders of the Communist Regime in China, bringing the threat of conflict in the Pacific.
War often seems like something that is far removed from Canada. This past fall, Danielle and I travelled to Poland where we met with Polish political leaders and bore witness to how Poles have stepped up to help Ukraine and the folks displaced by war. It was incredible to see how so many have sacrificed their comforts and resources to ensure that those who are in need have at least their basic necessities met.
In the midst of a productive and busy trip, we set aside time to tour Auschwitz-Birkenau, the notorious Nazi concentration camp, that saw more than a million lives destroyed, including Jews, minorities, the disabled, and political dissidents, among many others. Seeing this site in person, and some of the other memorials of war, changes you in a way that is beyond words. It makes one realize just how fortunate we are to have the freedoms we have and how attaining and maintaining these freedoms has a great cost.
Throughout my time in Parliament, I have endeavoured to remember the memory of those who sacrificed so much for our freedom, their families who face their own challenges at home, and those who came home with seen and unseen injuries. This is an effort that I believe we all need to undertake. The brave men and women who have stood up for our freedoms need to be remembered, not only during Veterans Week but every day. Lest we forget should always be more than a hashtag, and this year, that need has once again been made real.
For folks across Battle River—Crowfoot, I have put together a website with all for the Remembrance Day Services, find out more here: www.damienkurek.ca/remembrance. Together, let’s Remember.