The Memory Project website captures audio stories of Canadian veterans from the two world wars, the Korean War and from Peacekeepers.  It’s amazing to hear the voices of veterans describing specific incidences of war that are forever ingrained in their memories.  It’s unimaginable to have to live with such memories for a lifetime.

According to the website, one of the purposes of the project is “…to inject real meaning into recorded numbers and dates”.  They have done this very well.  The title of this blog, “117,316”, represents the number of Canadians who have lost their lives at war, from World War I through to current times.  Reading through the website helped me recall a conversation with my mother many years ago.  At that time she was describing World War II and what it was like to be living in Toronto, Ontario.  She talked about the boys in the neighbourhood as well as some of her brothers, heading off to war.  She described the messenger coming, unfortunately more than once, with news of a fatality and the neighbourhood mourning the loss of young men.  She talked about one of the neighbours sending off their three sons to war and two dying in service.  When this occurred the third son was called back home because the family could not be expected to risk the loss of another child.  It is unimaginable…the pain the surviving soldiers have carried as well as the pain that the families of the lost soldiers carried.

Only a few short years ago my daughters and I stood at an overpass for the Highway of Heroes to honour one of the fallen soldiers who was being returned to Canada.  This is the route from CFB Trenton on Highway 401 that is travelled by the Canadian Forces personnel funeral convoys.  The 401 is a tremendously busy highway but as we stood on the overpass, alongside many others, it was almost possible to hear a pin drop, except for the traffic noise below.  It is one of those rare moments that is shared with total strangers and yet because of the depth of emotion it is a time when we seem to know one another so well.  Hopefully the family of the fallen soldier felt our collective sadness for their loss and our thank you for everything they had given.  “Lest we forget”.

Total Canadians Who Served:  2,271,291

Total Canadians Who Gave Their Lives: 117,316

Total Veterans alive Today: 712,700

Source of data:  The Memory Project Blog, Clarice Dale, March 4, 2013 – http://www.thememoryproject.com/news/358:in-the-service-of-canada-the-ever-changing-face-of-the-canadian-veteran/

Photo from realworkhard via Pixabay