With just two days until Remembrance Day, Cochrane's representative in Ottawa is reflecting on Canada's chance to thank our military, both past and present, for the tremendous sacrifice they give.
Banff - Airdrie Conservative MP Blake Richards has a personal connection to the Canadian Armed Forces and holds great respect for the military and for Remembrance Day itself.
"It's a day when we get to remember those who sacrificed for the freedoms that we enjoy. I have the honour and privilege of representing my fellow citizens in parliament and I think about the fact that we get to vote and choose who it is that represents us, Those are all freedoms that we enjoy because of the people who laid down their lives and sacrificed for that privilege and that right that we have."
The personal connection comes from the fact that Richards' great-grandfather served in World War I while his grandfather served in World War II. Richards is quite proud of that fact.
"I display a number of pieces of their military history on the wall in my office. It's something that gives you a reminder every day of what those that served did for us. I've also had the opportunity over the years to meet so many heroes, and they are heroes. I think about Jack Hilton from Airdrie, I think about Ray Hoffman in Cochrane who I had the honour of giving his eulogy at his funeral when passed away recently. These were men who were true heroes and they live amongst us and they continue to serve their communities."
With the passing of World War I and World War II veterans, there was a concern for some time that Remembrance Day might become just a memory. Richards was one of those concerned.
"That's why I was such a big supporter of the Memory Project that was digitizing the memories of those that were still with us, while we still have them so future generations of Canadians can understand and appreciate what they went through."
Richards says he's no longer concerned about Remembrance Day fading away. "I've noticed in the last few years, as we've had our men and women that served in Afghanistan and other places, when there's been Canadian sacrifices made in those conflicts, it's made it a bit more real for younger generations of Canadians. I see a lot of students and young children in the last few years attending these ceremonies and it's a really great thing."
Canada is commemorating major milestones in the two World Wars on several fronts this year. The 100th anniversary of the Battle of Passchendaele, the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge and the 75th anniversary of Dieppe are all being recognized this year.
Just yesterday (November 8) the Government of Alberta declared November 10th, 2017 as the Battle of Passchendaele Day in the Province. The battle ended on November 10th, 1917. Richards says those battles showed Canada at it's best.
"The world saw the heart and bravery and valour of our men and women in uniform and understood what Canadians have to offer the world. It's great to see when there's an initiative to honour and remember those sacrifices and those historic battles. I commend that, anytime you see that."
Richards will be back in his riding and attending several Remembrance Day services in the next few days. "On November 10th I'll be speaking at the ceremony at Airdrie Koinonia Christian School then on Remembrance Day itself I'll attend and lay wreaths at ceremonies in Canmore, Banff and Exshaw. I'll have the opportunity to pay my respect in a number of ceremonies this year, something I'm pleased to be able to do."