With Remembrance Day in the wings, I think that it is important that we take a moment out of our day to remember the brave men and women who have served Canada in a uniformed capacity.
While Remembrance Day was instituted to remember the horrible conflict that was the First World War, since that time, Canadians have lived, fought, and fallen in numerous other campaigns and theatres of combat.
A badge of great honour for our great country is that, other than in the most extreme periods of strife, the First and Second World Wars, Canada has maintained its military solely through volunteer enrolment.
This is a fact I feel is often overlooked when speaking about the Canadian Armed Forces, and the many, dangerous missions that it has undertaken to support peace, order, and good governance throughout the world.
While the norm in many countries was for many years was to fill the ranks of their armies with young men bound by local law to serve a conscripted period of service with the military upon reaching their 18th year, Canada has always managed to maintain its peacetime ranks with people who were willing to volunteer for service with the country.
In this, Canada stands apart from the majority of the NATO nations, though the last two decades have seen a trend towards cancelling mandatory military service regulations in many Western countries.
Having served briefly myself, I know that the life of a soldier is not an easy one, even in peacetime.
Daily regimens, heavy discipline, and occasional drudgery all mark the life of an average serviceman or -woman.
Whether hot, cold, snowy or raining, you are often out, exposed to the elements, sometimes for weeks at a time.
I can recall my winter warfare training, living in a slit trench at -20 degrees, being there for enough days that you forget what it is like to be warm.
I recall summers, out in the heavy heat, my combats stiff with dried sweat, and I wondered if it really mattered that I camouflaged my trench, because surely anyone who happened to be downwind could smell me just fine.
Yet despite these factors, despite the discipline, despite the threat of bodily harm that comes at every step of the way, from training, to exercises, to active field deployments, Canadians have for 150 years or more agreed to give up their comforts to stand on guard for the nation.
Many Canadians have fallen in service to their country. Many more have been grievously wounded. Yet still the ranks of the Armed Forces remain full, and our security is assured by these brave men and women.
While the time of Remembrance is upon, think not just of those that our country has lost.
These brave individuals who have given their life in service to the greater good deserve as much honour as we can bestow upon them.
Think also though of those who left battlefields and training accidents wounded, because their sacrifices helped defend us as well.
Also remember those who managed to make it through war, and through peacetime service unscathed.
They all did their part in helping the fight for freedom from tyranny, and the rights we now hold as dear.
So to all servicemen and -women, past and present, fallen, wounded, or safe now with their families, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for the service that you freely offered to defend me, my family, and our way of life.
Your sacrifices are not in vain, and your efforts are eternally appreciated by a grateful nation.
Lest We Forget.