Cornwall - November 11, 2011 - Remembrance day is a day that we pause to remember the sacrifices of the thousands of men and women who have served, continue to serve and will serve our country during times of war, conflict and peace. It is also a day to say Thank You to our veterans, for all the freedoms that we enjoy living in the greatest country in the world. We should never take these privileges for granted by remembering their sacrifices each and every day.
I have two grandfathers who served our country, one in each World War. My paternal great grandfather David Savard was killed in action in WWI and my maternal grandfather William A. Payment served in WWII and thankfully returned home.
According to WWII.ca, Private David Harold Savard was killed on September 17, 1916 and is laid to rest at the Vimy Memorial Cemetery. He was a member of the Canadian Infantry (Quebec Regiment) and is remembered on a plaque at the Cornwall Cenotaph (see below). My grandfather, Claude Savard would have been only a month away from his third birthday when his father was killed in Europe.
I am uncertain how old Private Savard was when he was killed, but it is likely that he was a very young man. He left behind a young son, who went on to have a son of his own (my father Ronald), who in turn had two children (my sister and I). Between us, Rhonda and I have seven children. I am sure that at the time, Private Savard understood the importance of the fight he was undertaking for the benefit of all Canadians. However, I doubt he was able to envision the impact that his ultimate sacrifice would have after 95 years for his grandson, great grandchildren and great-great grandchildren. We and all Canadians are very fortunate.
His story is similar to tens of thousands of other Canadian veterans. In recent years, we have lost both my grandfather and my father and I regret having not asked more questions about my great-grandfather. Conducting a Google search in preparation for this article reinforced to me how little I really know about the battles he endured, his life and how he died.
I was twelve years old when my grandfather Payment passed away after a battle with cancer at the age of 65 years old. I am thankful for the fond memories of Grandpa – fishing on the river, woodworking in the garage, dinner at the Chinese restaurant and more. He taught me that it took 14 small perch to make a dozen and that “a job worth doing was a job worth doing right!”
As a young boy, he didn’t talk about the war with me. Why would he – we had other things to talk about. Almost five years ago now, we lost my mother and while she was alive we didn’t talk much about Grandpa’s service time either. This column has reminded me that it is time to invite my Uncle Bill over for a scotch or three and ask some questions.
There are thousands of Canadian fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters involved in the conflicts of today, who put everything on the line to stand up for what they believe in – the values that we as Canadians hold dear. For the rest of us who owe our freedom to the service of both the past and present generations, it is our duty to support and remember.
Today, I will be remembering and saying thank you to our veterans and Canadian Armed Forces.
Lest we forget.