John Andrew “Dutch” McLellan, at the age of 101, finally got his medals – the France and Germany Star and the 1939-1945 War Service Medal – for serving his country during the Second World War.
Why it took 74 years is a telling testimony to his attitude.
“I never applied for them because I was just doing my job,” he explains.
Indeed, it’s a reminder to all of us as Remembrance Day approaches this coming Monday, Nov. 11 that we, too, have a job to do.
Part of that job, of course, is to remember with appreciation and hold dear the sacrifices so many thousands of young Canadians made on numerous battlefields, in numerous wars and peace-keeping missions, worldwide.
But another important job is to not only remember, but also act upon our sacred duty, as John McCrae wrote in Flanders Fields in 1915, to “take up” their “quarrel with the foe.”
This means to recognize that the spirit of Remembrance Day should live not only on Nov. 11 but all 365 days of the year.
It is our duty, day after day, year after year, to protect the democratic institutions and ideals for which so many, in air and on land and sea, sacrificed so much to protect.
Voting in elections, and safeguarding free speech, the freedom of mobility, and the rights of free association and public assembly number among them.
This is not just the stuff of slogans, but precious principles which all of us as Canadians have a duty to protect today and always.
Freedoms that so many citizens who came before us held so important, they shielded them with flesh and blood.
Perhaps our greatest foe today is apathy.