My great-grandfather, Walter Hemens, served as a medic in the First World War. I never had the opportunity to meet him, so everything I know about him was shared by my father and his father.
Great-grandpa Walter was the focus for an assignment I did in middle school. I remember I went to my grandfather, Stan, to hear the war stories that were told to him by his dad.
I remember being very proud upon learning about the bravery of my great-grandfather, and being very grateful for the risks that he had taken which ultimately helped pave the way for my family’s arrival in Canada.
Unfortunately, I don’t remember much of the details of his time in the war, and to make matters worse, I misplaced the assignment long ago. What I do remember is that he lived through the war, but had experienced a great deal of horror and trauma. He would later relocate from England to Canada to start a new life here when the war ended. My grandfather has since passed, so I have lost that crucial source of my family’s history as well.
From time to time, my great-grandfather will cross my mind. And I think of my grandpa quite often, who served as an air traffic controller with the Canadian Armed Forces for 32 years.
For me, Remembrance Day is an opportunity for me to reflect and preserve the memories of my grandfather and my great-grandfather. They were two men who dedicated their lives to serving Canada and the Commonwealth so that I — along with the rest of the nation — could live a peaceful and prosperous life. Both may be gone, but their sacrifices and commitment live on.
Observing Remembrance Day is to honour acts of selflessness, courage and heroism. With everything going on in the world, this year’s Remembrance Day serves as a great reminder of how lucky we are to live in Canada.
I would like to express my gratitude to all those who have put on a uniform, who have served our country without asking for reward. On Nov. 11, I’ll be thinking of my grandfather and his father, as well as the hundreds of thousands of Canadian men and women who committed their lives for the betterment of our country.
Not everyone has the courage that you possess, and I thank you.
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