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Remembrance Day (November 11) is around the corner.  It’s a time when we stop.  A time when we reflect.  A time when we can hopefully realize the weight of our freedom.  The more we experience that freedom, however, and the further we are removed from war.  I’m afraid one day, for one minute, isn’t enough.  I think we need to create an attitude of gratitude for not only those who have fought for us, but also for those who continue to make Canada a safe place.   Let’s remember to say “thank-you”.

My wife’s nudge…

I can’t tell you how many times I feel a nudge when we’re in public and my wife notices a member of the military standing next to us.  Her heart immediately says, “we should say something…” But for some reason, we make it awkward.  It’s easy to say “thank-you” during the school assembly or public community gathering, but during everyday life, it’s easy to ignore and think, “someone else will say something,” or “they already know we appreciate them, ” or even, “maybe they want to be left alone?”  In reality, they are excuses.  Who doesn’t like to be acknowledged for serving a nation?  We often just lack the courage to say “thank-you”.   It’s a little ironic really.   The amount of courage they have displayed, or are currently displaying, is beyond the understanding of many of us, and yet we lack the courage to say “thank-you”.  Throughout the whole year, let’s remember to say “thank-you”!

Shiloh, his best friend…

Veterans have been through so much and they will carry much of what they’ve experienced on their shoulders the rest of their lives!  So many have lost their lives in war, while it seems so many re-live war every day as Veterans. Some are able to remove themselves, but just as many struggle with post-traumatic stress (PTSD)  While it might look like a textbook concept, PTSD is a real thing!

My wife and I have met a very nice veteran in our town.  His name is Ian.  Ian struggles with some social issues because of what he faced in keeping others safe.  Shiloh is his best friend – she’s a dog to us; a companion to him.  It’s so amazing to watch them.  Shiloh will do whatever is necessary to protect, honor, and respect a man who has served this country.  And yet… how many times have I witnessed others give Ian a hard time about having a service dog in public places.  If a dog can give respect, I think everyone who experiences freedom in this country, can do the same.  I challenge you – how will you say “thank-you”?

If it was me…

During a recent service, we took a moment to reflect on those who make this country safe.  I was away from home for a couple of days and I quickly remembered giving my wife and little girl a hug and kiss when I left.  In that moment, when we stopped to reflect, tears began to run down my face.  I began to picture…what if me, saying goodbye, would be the last time I gave them a hug and kiss?  What if I was leaving and not confident I would return?  What if I was embarking on a selfless journey to keep others safe?  That 60 secs blew…me…away.

Remembrance Day isn’t about crying, it’s not even about death, it’s about being grateful and acknowledging the selfless sacrifice so many men and woman have made and are ready to make, should we have to go to war.  It’s about finding a way to say “thank-you” every chance we can.  Remembrance Day is about making sure the children of today know about the sacrifice of yesterday so they don’t take freedom for granted.  Join with me to say “thank-you”.

How can we say “Thank-you” ?

1. Wait until November 12 for Christmas

By waiting until November 12 for Christmas, we can really focus on November 11.  Veterans deserve some time.  They deserve our attention.  They deserve the community to stop, slow down, and pay attention to their selfless sacrifices.  I challenge you to say “thank-you” by holding off on Christmas until November 12.

2. Attend a School Assembly or Community Service

There are many schools and community services happening in the days leading up to November 11.  Many of those assemblies and services will have Veterans present or people representing those who have served.  If you can make it, make yourself present.  Show our children the importance of respect and show our Veterans how much we respect them.

3. Ask a Veteran, military personnel, or first-responder for a prayer request

They may not believe in God.  They may not care for your faith.  They may not even believe a prayer can work.  It’s amazing, however, how many are open to someone caring enough to pray for them.  If you see a Veteran, a military personnel, or a first-responder (police, fire-fighter, paramedic), say “thank-you” by asking how you can pray for them.  The situations they face, or have faced, can weigh heavy, and a simple prayer can go a long way.

4. Remember to simply say “thank-you”

Perhaps it goes without saying, but the most simplest thing we can do is simply say “thank-you”.  And it doesn’t have to be the week of Remembrance Day to do so.  Let’s be people of a thankful spirit.

5. Wear a poppy

Wearing a poppy is a simple way to show your support.  Make a donation, and wear one proudly next to your heart.

Here’s the challenge…let’s be God’s hands and feet by respecting and honoring those who have kept, and continue to keep, our nation safe.  It’s not just a moment in history, it’s not just a sad time, it’s a time of respectful reflection.  So let’s remove our hats, proudly wear a poppy, have an attitude of gratitude, and simply say “thank-you”.

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