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“A powerful reminder”

 

“The first time I had to notify the next of kin of the death of their son and fiancé in Afghanistan was a powerful reminder of the fragility of human life.” 

 

A Remembrance Day reflection
by Fr. Patrick O’Neill

(As seen in This Month in the Diocese, November 2020)

November 11th is the day we remember the sacrifices made by Canadians in armed conflicts throughout the history of our nation. Many men and women from the early 1900’s to present day have served in the Canadian Armed Forces and during war have paid the Ultimate Sacrifice. Our country has endured WWI, WW2, Korean War and Afghanistan. Our soldiers have also served abroad in many peace keeping missions and have endured conflicts in places like Bosnia.

Because of the service and bravery of our military past and present we have secured our freedom to live the lives we have now in our great country of Canada. On Remembrance Day we remember soldiers who paid the Ultimate Sacrifice, those who came home our Veterans and those currently serving in the Canadian Forces today.

I have the honour to be a member of the Canadian Forces serving as an Army Chaplain in addition to being the parish priest at Our Lady of Fatima. I am currently serving my 12th year in the Armed Forces. I proudly wear my uniform knowing that those who have served before me have kept us safe and allow our country to prosper in freedom.

Personally I am moved by the passion and dedication of the soldiers I work with daily. The first time I had to notify the next of kin of the death of their son and fiancé in Afghanistan was a powerful reminder of the fragility of human life. When I stood on the tarmac at CFB Trenton to greet the remains of Sgt Jimmy MacNeil back from Afghanistan on his journey back home to Glace Bay I was moved to tears. I could not stop. As we journeyed from CFB Trenton on the “Highway of Heroes” to Toronto we traveled under 50 overpasses. People were everywhere on every overpass and along the highway. Upon arrival at the Sydney airport another “Highway of Heroes” was done for the first time from Sydney Airport to the funeral home in Glace Bay. People want to remember those who serve and especially those who pay the Ultimate Sacrifice like Jimmy, your father, your uncle, your grandparent, your great-grandfather, your brother or sister, your friend, your son or daughter.

When you see a Veteran or a current serving member of the Canadian Forces please thank them for their service. On November 11th we remember and are thankful for all we have a result of the bravery and sacrifice of our Veterans.

Communications Officer, Diocese of Antigonish

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