Thank you soldiers; I remember what you did for me

By Sandra L. Brown

November 8, 2017 2:20 PM

Sponsored by the Saskatchewan Publicity Committee of the Victory Loan in 1919, students in Saskatchewan schools including Lloydminster were encouraged to enter an essay contest titled, “From war to peace; why Canadians should buy more Victory Bonds.” 
Medals were awarded for the various categories and a gold medal for best overall in the province.
The 1919 Victory Loan opened in November with cooperation from the Dominion of Canada minister of finance.
Their slogan was, “All for Canada, Canada for all.”  Canadians nationwide were encouraged to participate. 
In reality it was a war loan from the people of Canada to Canada itself, “Canada’s book of war is gloriously written - make this, the closing chapter, a worthy one. 
The responsibility is yours.” 
Funds were used for various reasons including honouring war commitments and expenses, caring for wounded soldiers, financing their return and provisions for their reestablishment. 
One line in their advertisement ominously stood out, “The guns of war are silent - but they are not yet cool.”
The second clause of the Great War Veterans’ Association constitution states, “To preserve the memory and records of those who suffered and died for the nation; to see to the erection of monuments to their valour; the provisions of suitable burial places and the establishment of an annual Memorial Day.” 
In Lloydminster, officers were nominated at the Armistice Day meeting and a Ladies Auxiliary was formed by kin of returning men. 
An inaugural whist drive was organized to raise funds for turning the Memorial Hall into a clubhouse for the winter months. 
Many of the returning men felt there was a need for a change in political parties.
The main topics to be collectively discussed at the Great War Veterans Association provincial conference in December were whether their policies should be changed and to take independent action to ensure that the war effort wasn’t for nought.
The Reestablishment Committee decided they had done all they could financially to aid the returning men who served overseas. 
The misunderstanding in regards to receiving a bonus for their service was resolved – there was no bonus given. 
According to the Veterans Association there was justification in the soldiers’ complaints as funds were available from the Department of Civil Reestablishment over and above the actual administrative costs as governed by Sir Thomas White. 
There was a distinct possibility Canada could not withstand any further financial demands as it would drastically restrain its resources and as you would expect opinions differed.
The effects of the war were broadly felt.  In honor of the district men who lost their lives in Flanders Fields, a memorial service was scheduled for Nov. 9, 1919 at the schoolhouse in Marshall. 
Colonel Laws from Lloydminster was asked to unveil a monument in the village after the service.  All members of the Veterans Association were encouraged to attend this ceremony.
It’s difficult to express in words the feelings of appreciation for the men and women who served in the First World War, also known as The Great War, from July 28, 1914 to Nov. 11, 1918. 
They deserve our utmost gratitude and appreciation. A heartfelt, “Thank you for your service!” hardly seems adequate. 
When this war ended the Canadian stats were staggering with more than 60,000 lost lives and 170,000 wounded.
My grandson Dakota wrote a school essay for the national Royal Canadian Legion literary contest focusing on Remembrance Day. 
I like to believe he caught the writing bug from me, but he deserves all the credit.  One paragraph especially stands out, “Thanks to the soldiers we have a life. 
A life of freedom.  A life of happiness.  They left their family to fight for us.  They gave up their lives for us.” 
His essay concludes with heartfelt words of gratitude, “Thank you soldiers; I remember what you did for me.”
Lest we forget is not a timeworn phrase nor is the wearing of a red poppy an overrated accessory; both have profound meaning.  It’s our sincere obligation as Canadians to honor their legacy.
Wear your red poppy as a remembrance to those who served and gave the ultimate sacrifice – their lives.  The very least we can do in return is remember.

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