November 10th, 2014
The following was submitted to newspaper editors across Canada by Bill Sutherland, National Board Chair Commissionaires. We want to share it with you here today.
As November 11th approaches for yet another year, the two world wars most often linked with Remembrance Day recede further into our history. This annual rite of November is a crucial hedge against our faltering memory, and we must never forget the sacrifices our soldiers made in those two world-changing conflicts. But with no vets remaining from the First World War and fewer each year from WWII, I worry that Remembrance Day may become less meaningful for the current and future generations of Canadians. One way to make it more relevant is to include all veterans in our thoughts and thanks, whether they finished their military service last century or last week.
Commissionaires conducts an annual public opinion survey through Nanos Research to examine public attitudes towards our veterans. In our 2012 survey, 82 per cent of Canadians thought primarily of veterans of the first or second world wars on Remembrance Day. Yet 90 per cent of Canadians believed that we should honour all veterans, regardless of where and when they served. I couldn’t agree more. In our 2014 survey, nearly 90 per cent believe that recognizing the milestone anniversaries of the two world wars is “important or somewhat important” in focusing public attention on veterans issues. I couldn’t agree more. Finally, in this year’s survey, 96 per cent of Canadians believe we have an obligation to help our veterans find meaningful employment when they finish their military service and begin civilian careers. This was the strongest response we have ever received to this question. Again, I couldn’t agree more.
Let us not forget the new generation of veterans. They also deserve our respect, gratitude and support. We know that today’s veterans often find it difficult to make that transition from the Canadian Armed Forces to a second career in the civilian world. They are highly trained and offer considerable expertise and dedication to new employers. So on November 11th, let’s also remember to support the thousands of veterans who, right now, are wrestling with the challenge of finding and settling into second careers. After November 11th, today’s new veterans will still need our support. And they deserve it.