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The Ruttle Report - One word comes to mind today - respect

It took some growing up to realize the importance of it all
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This week's column happens to fall on November 11, known nationwide as Remembrance Day in our great country.

Now, let's be honest when it comes to this particular day on the calendar.  When we were kids, we didn't think too much of it.  That's not necessarily a shot or anything, that's just the reality of being a kid and being told why you have a certain day off from school.  When you're a young kid and you hear, "No school today", the only thing on your mind is, "Awesome!  I'm gonna sleep in and watch TV all day!"

A lot of us didn't take the meaning of this day to heart.  That's fine, it's just called being a kid and not having a more well-rounded view of the world.  It took some growing up for me to fully understand the significance of this day.

It took some growing up to realize the importance of it all, but it also took this job for the point to really come sailing home.  Over the years, I've been able to speak with a number of veterans who shared their personal experiences: their times spent in combat, their decision-making processes, their reasons why it was important to them to put on the uniform and lend themselves to their country.

It took speaking with veterans who are people that I went to school with in my younger years.  People like my old improv buddy Cathan Perry, a Macrorie kid who spoke to me at length about his time in Afghanistan when he came home.  People like Cory McCutcheon, another fellow Conquest kid who decided to enroll and has risen through the ranks over the years.  People like my close friend Alex Li, who went to Afghanistan and actually got hurt, making the blood of everyone else back here at home run ice cold until the discovery that, luckily, his injury wasn't life-threatening.

Talking with these guys and other through the years have helped shape my views on Remembrance Day, and these days I stand with the rest of the community and the rest of Canada in remembering.  Sometimes in life, things just take time in order for the whole picture to come into focus.

Heck, just this past September, I was taken aback by an event that I went and covered down in Loreburn.  On a Friday afternoon, on what appropriately turned out to be Military Family Appreciation Day, I was asked to drive down to the community and report to the local hall because two senior citizens who are also veterans were being celebrated for reaching 100 years of age.  Robert Taylor and Lyman Peardon, clad in their Legion colours, were the revered guests of the utmost honour and had an entire room filled with family, friends and well-wishers.  There were speeches, there were words, and there were photos that were taken.  I was glad to be a part of it all because it spoke so highly of these two men, and it was the kind of story that you just expect in a news publication such as ours; the story of two men who've reached an iconic age and had a hell of a life along the way.

Nothing prepared me for becoming a part of the afternoon's itinerary, however.  Yes indeed, as Mr. Taylor stood up from his chair and was wrapping up a war story being told to the entire room, I must have caught his eye as I was snapping photos.  Robert finished his story and then turned my way, waving his hand.
"Derek!  Hey, Derek!  Come on over here, fella!"

The room filled with attendees turned to me, and I don't mind saying that the blood rushed to my cheeks just a little bit.  Nevertheless, I was being summoned, so I walked over, took the hand that was being offered, and shook the hand of this veteran who, as it turns out, is a big fan of our newspaper and a huge supporter of my writing.  Hey, I just call them as I see them.

I talked to Robert, learning a little more about the lives that he and Lyman had to have lived and what the world was like at the time, and not long afterward, I was on my way back home.  But this story has stayed with me, and it'll stay with me just the same as Art Knutson's story will, and it'll stay with me just the same as Donald Couch's story will.

Outside of the stories that men like Robert Taylor, Lyman Peardon, Art Knutson and Donald Couch have lived or remembered, there are other things in our everyday lives that do their part in honouring the men and women who served.

Take the new Veterans Memorial Park in Outlook, for instance.  A couple of weeks ago, I covered what was being called an 'unofficial' opening ceremony for the space, as members of the Outlook Legion branch gathered with members of town council to signify the opening of the new space.  It was a nice afternoon program, and the park looked fantastic as Legion members brought in flags to eventually raise high above.  However, I need to point out something about the memorial park that very much caught my eye, and it happened late one night this past weekend.

I had heard there were lights that had been installed at the park's location that would run at nighttime, but I'd never seen them in action.  That changed on Saturday as I left a friend's house at around midnight.  I went over to the park, got out of my vehicle, and walked up to the monuments on display.  Indeed, this whole area was lit up.  I have to say, having been there for the Legion's event just a week or two earlier, and being here now at this moment, it was very much like night and day, both literally and figuratively.

I stood there, late on a Saturday night, armed with my camera and started capturing images.  There was just something so utterly powerful about the location at nighttime, away from the light of the sun and illuminated only by way of select lighting fixtures.  It grabs ahold of you and seems to take on a wholly different persona, giving off another kind of vibe that makes a person stand up straight and pay attention to everything that you're looking at.

Either way, I just love the fact that the park exists now.  I know it was a labour of love and it looks excellent.

Wherever you are on Thursday, do your part and Remember.

Always Remember.


For this week, that's been the Ruttle Report.