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Sacrifice

Over the Top, Neuville-Vitasse, by Lieutenant Alfred Theodore Joseph Bastien.
Copyright Canadian War Museum (CN 8058).

Over the Top, Neuville-Vitasse, by Lieutenant Alfred Theodore Joseph Bastien.

Canadian soldiers charge out of their trenches to attack enemy lines. Going "over the top" epitomized the bravery and valour of Canadian soldiers. Machine gun fire cut down many of the soldiers before they reached German positions. Yet, these men were able to set aside their fears and face the enormous personal risks required to bring victory.

The rights and freedoms we possess have been preserved for us by the sacrifices of Canadian soldiers, sailors, and airmen in a variety of conflicts and missions throughout the last 100 years. As the Rights & Freedoms section of this web site showed, in order to protect us, the members of the Canadian military have given up the very rights they were fighting to safeguard. They have spent years away from their families, endured harsh, nearly unimaginable conditions, and watched their close friends die or be maimed, while others have been killed or maimed themselves. As they made this sacrifice on our behalf, they were trained and expected to take the lives of the enemy -- something that went against everything they believed in their normal life outside of the conflict. After their service was no longer needed, when the war was won or the mission completed, those who survived returned to Canada to deal with their memories with little support from the Canadian people or their government. Their families and friends, unless they were veterans themselves, frequently had difficulty in comprehending the effects of those experiences. No matter how hard they tried, they could not always help the returning veterans to come to terms with their wartime experiences. Despite the parades and monuments celebrating the wartime achievements of the members of the army, navy, and air force, the burden of their memories was one they all too frequently had to bear alone.

Letter from Mrs. R. Waring to Lieutenant-Colonel W.A. Griesbach, 2 October 1916.Letter from Mrs. R. Waring to Lieutenant-Colonel W.A. Griesbach, 2 October 1916.Letter from Mrs. R. Waring to Lieutenant-Colonel W.A. Griesbach, 2 October 1916.
City of Edmonton Archives (Loyal Edmonton Regiment Collection, A96-215, Box 12).

Letter from Mrs. R. Waring to Lieutenant-Colonel W.A. Griesbach, 2 October 1916.

This letter illustrates the anguish Mrs. Waring suffered as a result of her husband's death in the First World War. The conflict overseas had obvious and profound effects on those at home. Mrs. Waring, for example, was left a widow and her three small children fatherless.

The following pages highlight some of the experiences and accomplishments of the Canadian military in the three principal conflicts of the twentieth century -- the First World War, the Second World War, and the Korean War. These pages focus on some of the key battles and engagements that have helped to preserve the Canadian nation. As you go through the pages, in addition to the images, graphs, and virtual reality images on the page, you will see links to additional multimedia materials that contain first hand accounts of war service, either in the form of text or as audio clips from interviews with veterans. These items will give us a very brief glimpse into the lives of soldiers. Hopefully, they will help us to appreciate why we honour their sacrifice on Remembrance Day and every other day of the year.


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