Every autumn, to do our part in the cause of remembrance, we seek out veterans of the Second World War who will share their stories. And every year, it is becoming harder to find them.
Someone who was old enough to serve, even at the very end of the war, would be at least 92 years old today. Of the handful who are still with us, many are infirm. Others choose not to discuss their experience, which we understand and respect.
The age of first-hand accounts of the war is coming to its natural end, just as it did with the First World War in the 2000s.
This year, West Vancouver resident and Royal Canadian Air Force inspector Jim Thomson graciously sat down with us for a chat. Harrowing stories about those who saw terrifying combat tend to be the ones that get repeated, but people like Thomson remind us of the mass mobilization of Canadian society that was required to turn back the spread of fascism. We’re as grateful to Thomson as we are every veteran we’ve profiled over the years.
There are peacekeepers and veterans of more recent military conflicts whose stories deserve telling. But as the visceral Second World War stories become silent, it makes our responsibility of remembrance that much greater.
This Nov. 11, there are Remembrance Day services happening at Victoria Park, Lynn Valley’s Veterans Plaza, Cates Park/Whey-ah-Wichen and West Vancouver’s Memorial Park.
These are our opportunities to honour the veterans still with us and show the ones who aren’t that though they may be gone, they will never be forgotten.
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