The 93rd Annual Warriors` Day Parade, in Toronto on Saturday, August 16th is almost upon us and a group of classic car owners will be there again...to chauffeur some worthy veterans who are no longer able to walk the parade route. A '47 Chrysler and a '49 Packard, and my '39 Chevrolet Master Deluxe will be there, too! Unfortunately, we are seeing fewer American and Canadian veterans every year at this and other Warriors' Day Parades! The challenge each of us is faced with is what will this event really mean to folks if we allow them to forget? Like Remembrance Day; celebrated on November 11th and originally created to mark Armistice Day; the end of World War I, both are simply an opportunity for folks to recognize the ultimate sacrifice made by our veterans in both World Wars, Korea and various missions over the years.
However, not one veteran remains from World War I and World War II ranks are thinning dramatically. An entire generation that made such a huge sacrifice is slowly disappearing.
Assault Trooper, Al Armstrong, 8th Reconnaissance Regiment, 14th Hussars, a veteran of the Second World War who stormed Normandy, France in the D-Day invasion when he was just 19, recalls a passage off a war memorial which highlights their deeds. ``They will never know the beauty of this place, see the season’s change, enjoy nature’s chorus. All we enjoy we owe to them. Men and women who lie buried in the earth of foreign lands and in the seven seas.`` Retired Major Charles Scot-Brown (pictured) remembers well storming Normandy Beach on D-Day and parachuting into Arnhem three months later, on his 21st birthday!
Remembering and honoring our war veterans shouldn’t require a special occasion. Their exploits deserve recognition! A new generation of armed forces are now serving overseas in Afghanistan and other conflict areas and deserve recognition, also. “Our troops in Afghanistan are not buried at the side of the road or some damn field,” Armstrong is quoted as saying. “They’re bringing them home and that’s a credit to our country.”
For those who perished, their final drive home creates a respectful memorial services as folks line bridges along the way. With our flags waving in the breeze, Firefighters and Paramedics salute as folks stood at quiet attention when the procession of Police motorcycles and cruisers...and a hearse pass underneath. One could feel proud to be part of the crowd who line these bridges.
While our present involvement in world conflict has been reduced for now, the next time one of our heroes returns home in a procession, take a few moments and go out to that bridge. It’s not just that one returning soldier you’re honoring, but the millions who contributed, either fighting on distant shores or building airplanes and munitions at home who have served our troops and our allies in time of need.
General Douglas MacArthur once said, ``No one hates war more than the soldier,`` but the men and women of our armed forces continue a proud tradition; to maintain our freedoms...our freedom to vote, our freedom to work, our freedom to raise our families, our freedom to live in safety and security and our freedom to voice our opinion, even when not all would agree.
So, while you stand at attention and clap when you see a veteran waving from a classic automobile during any Warriors` Day Parade, think for a second of the sacrifices the prior generation have made, for us!