Thursday, November 10, 2005

Why I March Tomorrow

Tomorrow I will be seeing a group of old men.

I have done this for more than 20 years, and with each year this group grows smaller. This is inevitable, because what unites these men is that they were warriors in war, and the implication of their shrinking size is that the nation has not added to their ranks by declaring war on a grand scale.

There are, of course, some new faces among them. They wear blue berets, and were sent on missions of peace that were no less dangerous. For the nature of conflict has changed in our time, and so there will always be veterans among us.

I will not be seeing them alone. There will be others with me, some my age or older, more of them younger -- about the same age as these old men were, when they first donned the uniform and went to fight for their country. We will be in our best clothes, because it is a sign of respect and it is the least we can do for them. We will march past them, in a ceremony now in its ninth decade, because we are their descendants and have agreed to do what they did, should the need ever arise.

We do not march tomorrow because it will be fun. We will be parading in what promises to be miserable weather, cold and damp, offering a tribute to people who have endured far worse.

We march tomorrow because we wish to honour our veterans, to let them know with our presence that we appreciate their work and sacrifice. If you look around your office, your classroom, your dwelling, you will know: yours is a world made possible by them.

Yes, there are problems with our governments. But we have the freedom to say so, and we can air our opinions in almost any medium, whether at the water cooler, or at our computer, or on an A-Channel booth, or in a letter to the editor. The ability to decide things for ourselves is a key value of our society.

That is why our veterans fought. And because they suffered so much in their defense, it is why I march tomorrow.

Not for government. Not for me. For them.