Canadians serving in peacekeeping roles in Kosovo are among the local veterans being honoured on Remembrance Day. Photo courtesy Rick Anthony

EDITORIAL: Many opportunities to learn more about veterans’ experiences

Connecting with those who have served a good way to build understanding

The observance of Remembrance Day is growing in popularity around Greater Victoria, based on the attendance at local memorial ceremonies.

Victoria, host of the Nov. 11 ceremony at the legislature and a smaller gathering in Ross Bay cemetery (see story in today’s Courage Remembered section), and Esquimalt, with its traditionally packed service at Memorial Park, attract many who wish to pay their respects to Canada’s war dead and veterans who have or continue to serve.

As with similar services across the country, volunteer organizers of local memorials are also seeing a change in demographics of those in attendance – more Millennials are visibly choosing to join in the day of remembrance. Whether it’s at Uplands Park in Oak Bay, Veterans Memorial Park in Langford, at the Sooke Legion or Sidney Town Hall, crowds usually stocked mostly with middle aged and elderly attendees are being buffeted by younger residents.

We like to think our youth and young adults are taking to heart the messages delivered by veterans and those supporting them in our communities, that peace is always preferable, but honouring those who have died and acknowledging those who served is an admirable way to maintain this connection to our past.

Many current naval personnel and army reserves have participated in active missions overseas, as have those who recently retired or moved into other careers. Their presence; as fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters and friends; is a visible reminder of Canada’s contributions to the pursuit of peace and order.

While not all veterans are anxious to talk about their experiences in battle or peacekeeping situations, some are. Either way, their numbers are in stark contrast to the dwindling number of local veterans from the Second World War and Korean War, our country’s previous wartime scenarios.

Now and throughout the year, we should all attempt to find a veteran to speak with and learn more. It’s a good way to enhance our understanding and make connections with people who deserve to be heard.