Watching the Remembrance Day Ceremony on Parliament Hill today, I was reminded of how much sacrifice Canadian soldiers and their families have endured over the past century. It's something about which I have no direct experience, and yet with all the conflicts going on in the world today, something about which I need to remain aware.
There is military service (and "pseudo-military" service) in my family. My maternal grandfather and namesake, Ernest Huntley Clarke, applied to join the Canadian Expeditionary Force in WWI, although he was discharged on medical grounds soon after applying. After that, he joined the RCMP, and served at posts all over western Canada over the next 30 years.
My Dad, James Evan Love, enlisted in the Canadian Army in the 1940s, missing his chance to go over to Europe during WWII. Someone had measles or smallpox, so his entire group went into quarantine, during which time the war ended. He served as a Military Policeman, and distinguished himself as a very good marksman in various competitions. Later, Dad would join the RCAF and study radar and communications, flying in planes like the Hercules and the Lancaster Bomber.
One of his other sons, my brother David, also served for many years in the Canadian Navy. I'm sure that there are also Uncles and cousins who've worked in the military, and of whose stories I am ignorant.
Watching the ceremony from Ottawa, seeing the faces of the veterans from WWII and onward, I was struck by the amazing variety of eras, cultures, conflicts and generations that were represented. Yet, when a voice called "Attention!", it looked like the whole assembly, hundreds of veterans and personnel, adjusted their stance in unison. With all that cultural and temporal diversity, there was still a common understanding of duty and personal sacrifice.