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More than just three simple words

(Cartoon by Lance Goosen)

Lest we forget.

These are three words that we hear every year around this time.

But perhaps now, more than ever, those words are starting to take on an even more crucial meaning.

Last year’s Remembrance Day marked 100 years since the end of the First World War, meaning we are entering the second century of truly honouring the efforts of veterans in Canada.

The last living World War I veteran was Florence Green, a British citizen who died at the age of 110 in 2012.

In Canada, the last documented man to serve his country in that war was John Babcock, who passed away at the age of 109 on Feb. 18, 2010.

As the years have passed, we witness fewer and fewer veterans at our Remembrance Day ceremonies.

According to numbers from Statistics Canada in March 2017, there were approximately 50,000 of the more than one million Canadian men and women who served in the Second World War who were still alive.

It is safe to assume that number has declined since then.

And while we will see several veterans proudly seated at Memorial Park on Monday, there will sooner or later be a time when those who personally lived through these battles will be gone.

That is why it is so important we continue to honour their efforts and keep the story of their sacrifice alive.

And whether you support military action or don’t, wear a red poppy, white poppy or choose not too wear one at all, that is not what matters at the end of the day. What matters is taking a moment, perhaps too brief for many of us, to recognize the sacrifice of those who chose to represent their country. Those who chose to leave their family and friends behind. Those who were fortunate enough to make it home, and those who weren’t.

As divided as our country may seem after last month’s federal election, hopefully this is something we can agree on coast to coast, from Vancouver to Halifax, to right here in Oshawa.

While Canada may not be – if it ever was – perfect, if it wasn’t for the ones we remember this Monday, it could be a lot different, and maybe a lot worse.

Lest we forget.