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Remembrance and reflection

The legacy of Canada’s ‘Golden Generation’

On November 11, we stop to give thanks to the brave men and women who serve and have served in Canada’s armed forces – from battlefields in Europe and beyond during the First and Second World War to more recent campaigns in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. The most recent data from Veterans Affairs Canada shows that there are just over 48,000 Canadian veterans of the Second World War and Korean War still living. The average age of these men and women is 92. As we mark Remembrance Day, we look to them to find our common purpose to continue to work together to create a better world for future generations.

“To you from failing hands we throw the torch; be yours to hold it high.”

The tradition of remembrance is a chance to reflect on the freedoms we enjoy today thanks to the sacrifices made by so many who came before us. On Remembrance Day, we are reminded of the hope and the opportunities that were made possible through common sacrifice and effort by men and women of the ‘golden generation’ for the common good.

We owe a debt of gratitude to older adults, especially those who served as armed forces members, for the freedoms and privileges we enjoy today. However, as the number of veterans from the Second World War and Korea continues to decline, we must ask how will we remember them when they are all gone? And, how will we honour their memory?

The answer lies in future terms. In our most recent Report on Aging, we asked older Canadians how they Live a Life of Purpose. We also asked them if they were hopeful future generations will make the world a better place. The overwhelming majority of Canadian seniors, 87 per cent, said they were hopeful that the next generations will build on the positive progress made in the past and make continued improvements. Their trust in the younger generations to do good in the world is inspiring.

So, when we come together to observe a moment of silence to recognize our veterans and honour those who came before us, let's take a moment to consider how we are carrying on their legacy. In the final stanza of In Flanders Fields, there's an important line: "To you from failing hands we throw the torch; be yours to hold it high." Let's remember the lessons from our past and not "break faith" with those who died by collectively building up our society.