The son of a veteran of World War II, Lloyd Hackel of Moose Jaw, Sask., spent three decades with the Canadian Forces. He served in United Nations missions and rose through the ranks as an intelligence officer, retiring with the rank of major in 1999. A few years later, he took a job at NATO International Security Assistance Force headquarters in Kabul.
The 11th hour of the 11th day in the 11th month – this moment in time for decades has reminded us of the overwhelming commitment and sacrifice made by our fallen countrymen and women since the First World War. This time of remembrance has meant many things to many people. On this day I will join with other members of our community to celebrate my freedom while giving thanks in remembrance of the ultimate sacrifice by my fellow Canadians – people of all generations who have donned the Canadian military uniform in both peace and war and gone to foreign lands and fought for the life I enjoy in a peaceful and secure nation.
I will remember today my father and his generation, who left the farm communities of Saskatchewan and travelled a long journey that would return them back to our communities knowing the heavy burden of freedom, but who would remain relatively silent about their wartime experiences. I once asked my father if he knew fear when he fought in World War II. His response was one of interest: in the beginning fear was a far-off reality but when he ended up in a hospital and saw the human carnage of war, fear became his shadow.
Once again on this day of remembrance, I will silently remember my visits to memorials and small cemeteries in Europe; I remember particularly the Allied cemetery near Arnhem in Holland, where some of our fallen Canadian soldiers are buried. I will remember that they came from all parts of Canada. And I remember their ages: 21, 20, 24, 27; these were all young men who gave of themselves so generations of Canadians would live in a land of peace and freedom.
In our most recent honourable pursuits of peace and security, it is with a heavy heart I give thanks to the 158 Canadian soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice so others may get to experience freedom, peace and security in their land. Their efforts in assisting Afghans, as with our nation’s prior sacrifices, shall never be forgotten. I will also remember today the Afghan men and women who stood beside our soldiers and who worked with me to find dignity and respect in a land so full of death.
I am proud to be Canadian in that this country has seen fit to seek freedom, peace and security where it did not and does not exist. I am even more proud that as a nation of communities we take the time to honour our fallen sailors, soldiers and airmen; we shall not forget!