By Danika Gagnon
When I was younger, my grandfather never talked about the war. He, like many other grandfathers, had fought in World War II. His name is William J. Gunter and he served in the Royal Canadian Navy. He took part in landing missions in France aboard Landing Craft Infantry 149 on June 6th, 1944, at Juno Beach.
As I got older, he would tell us a story here or there about his time in the military if prompted, but he never boasted or bragged about his exploits, and he certainly never complained about how difficult it was, or about the hardships he and fellow soldiers endured.
He was fortunate enough to survive WWII uninjured, and to settle back in Canada to raise a family and enjoy a successful career in the public service. Many of his friends weren’t so lucky. His friends, our Canadian veterans, sacrificed their lives to protect our country. This is why every year, on November 11, my grandfather goes down to the War Memorial to pay tribute to his friends, fallen soldiers, and fellow veterans.
For all Canadians, Remembrance Day serves as a reminder of the great debt that we owe our veterans. It can be difficult for Canadians to understand the bravery and strength it took to fight for our country, or to truly understand the horrors these veterans must have witnessed. Yet my grandfather does not complain; he is proud to have served his country, and he appreciates his freedom every single day.
I’m very proud to have stood beside him today, on November 11, 2015, as he addressed a crowd on the steps of Tabaret Hall. Today, and every other day of the year, I thank my grandfather and all veterans for their bravery and for their sacrifices for our country.
Thank you, Grandpa.
Danika Gagnon works in the media relations office at the University of Ottawa and is a Faculty of Arts alumna.