So much of our conversation during this pandemic has focused on sacrifice. The ongoing actions, large and small, that we are collectively and personally required to do to stop the spread of this coronavirus and to keep ourselves and our community safe.
Today we solemnly remember, reflect upon, and honour the biggest of sacrifices. The ones made by those who served our countries in the armed forces and those who died doing so.
Lest we forget.
November 11 is Remembrance Day here in Canada and throughout the British Commonwealth and Veterans Day in the United States.
It is likely that everyone in our company has a direct connection to someone who has served for Canada or the United States or is currently serving.
Both of my grandfathers enlisted in the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force during World War I. William Roy Waddell in the air force. William John McDonald (pictured here) in the army. WJ volunteered for The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada, the army reserve regiment based in Toronto, on December 7, 1914. He shipped overseas to England in April of 1915 and served most of next four years as a sergeant in the Canadian Army Services Corp, the group that provided transport and supply support for the infantry. Specifically, he was assigned to a Railhead Supply Depot Unit that supported the Second Division in France.
The Great War exacted a very heavy toll on Canadians, particularly young people. Horrific battles at Ypres, the Somme, Vimy Ridge and Passchendaele are some of the most somber chapters of this nation’s history. Of the 420,000 who went to war overseas, 66,000 lost their lives. Their median age was 25.
My grandfathers were both fortunate to survive World War I. WJ, of course, went on to found our company shortly after he returned from overseas. Roy Waddell became a doctor, serving his community in Windsor for over 50 years as a family physician.
These men were but two of the many who served and sacrificed. Let us remember them all today and put our own current hardships in the context of the bravery, loss and selflessness of those who came before us.