Remembrance Day is time where many of us feel especially patriotic. We wear our poppies, attend Remembrance Day ceremonies, and share a moment of silence to remember those who have served our country. While all of this is wonderful, it is important to remember our troops always—not just on Remembrance Day. Here are some ideas to show support year-round:
Visit Your Local Military Museum
Recently, I visited The Military Museums of Calgary, Alberta and it was an amazing experience. Admission is only $5 for students, and you could easily spend an entire day looking at all the exhibits. According to The Military Museums website, “The Military Museums (TMM) is a Canadian Armed Forces tri-service history, heritage, art, research, and educational institution. The Military Museums is dedicated to preserving the memories and traditions of the countless Canadians who proudly served their country through numerous wars and conflicts by their selfless dedication, commitment and courage.” Their mission is to remember, preserve, and educate.
The museum has permanent galleries, such as The Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, Calgary Highlanders, Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) Museum, King’s Own Calgary Regiment, The Naval Museum of Alberta, The Army Museum of Alberta, and The Air Force Museum of Alberta, and The Cold War Hanger (which is a brand-new edition to the museum). The galleries are a combination of immersive exhibits, photos, miniature models, and artifacts.
There is also The Founder’s Gallery, which hosts changing exhibits. Currently, The Founder’s Gallery is featuring Mission: Afghanistan. The website describes it: “The exhibit discusses Canada’s military involvement in Afghanistan from 2001-2014 and is based upon the experiences of Canadians who served there. Personal artifacts and oral histories from veterans all across the country are presented. This exhibit includes additional key artifacts including a piece of one of the planes that hit the World Trade Center, a motorcycle used by an attempted suicide bomber, a large chunk of a propane truck that blew into a chain link fence and has the impressions from it, the last Canadian flag that flew in Afghanistan, a bullet proof window riddled with bullet marks – but none that penetrated, and weapons used by the Taliban”.
Walking through the Mission: Afghanistan exhibit, I found myself becoming emotional. Video footage from September 11th was playing in the background and the stories of fallen soldiers were presented on the walls—it was extremely powerful. As if this wasn’t enough, while reading the tragic story of the 2002 Tarnak Farm incident, our group was approached by a volunteer at the museum asking us if we have any questions. Turns out, he was a veteran medic, and his medic bag was displayed in the Founder’s Gallery.
Donate or Volunteer at a Veterans Food Bank
Calgary is home to The Veterans Food Bank and The Veterans Association Food Bank—the latter of which has sent out a plea for donations. Due to the pandemic, more veterans and their families are utilizing the food bank and fewer people are donating. These food banks usually accept perishable and non-perishable food items, essential items and hygiene products, Christmas hamper items, and cash donations.
According to Charles Redeker, food bank operations manager of The Veterans Association Food Bank, “Our mission, at the heart of it, is to prevent incidents of veteran isolation, veteran homelessness, and ultimately, veteran suicide. Without the support of that community, those donations, we can’t do that.”
Write Letters to Deployed Troops
My kids and I regularly make Christmas cards, letters, and drawings to mail to deployed military personnel through the Any Canadian Armed Forces Member Program. This is an easy, inexpensive way to show support that even young children can be involved in.
As per the website, “This program isn’t limited to Remembrance Day or the Christmas season. All mail that arrives at the Canadian Forces Postal Unit is sorted between the different operations/locations, combined into larger shipments, and then sent to each location on a weekly basis. This work by the postal unit staff continues every week, all year round. Regardless of what day it is on the calendar, any received mail item is always appreciated by the deployed soldier, sailor or aviator when it arrives.”