This year marks a significant milestone in Canadian history. This Remembrance Day will mark 100 years since the armistice was signed on November 11th, 1918, effectively ending the Great War.
This year, Anita Cenerini of Winnipeg has been chosen to represent the country as Canada’s Silver Cross Mother. Cenerina’s son, Private Thomas Welch of the 3rd Battalion Royal Canadian Regiment, served in Afghanistan as a part of Operation Athena.
Private Welch died on May 8, 2004, not in combat but less than three months after returning from Afghanistan. He was deemed to be the first death by suicide of a Canadian soldier after coming home from operations in the war-torn country. The Silver Cross was first authorized on Dec. 1, 1919, as a memento of personal loss on the part of widows and mothers of Canadian sailors, aviators and soldiers who died during the war.
Canada lost 158 soldiers, one diplomat, one journalist and two civilian contactors in Afghanistan. The selection of Anita Cenerini as our Silver Cross Mother is recognition of the fact that casualties of war extend well beyond the battlefield. ‘Shell shock’, as it was first coined in World War I, did little to explain what we have now come to better understand as posttraumatic stress disorder. Once falsely dismissed as a lack of moral fibre or courage, we now know PTSD can affect anyone. Sometimes it manifests itself physically but more often than not it is a mental health issue that can often go undiagnosed depending on the person.
As a teacher, I sometimes struggled with conveying the importance of Remembrance Day to young people. How could the death of 61,000 Canadians a hundred years ago still be relevant today? The appointment Anita Cenerini as our Silver Cross Mother really hits home when it comes to the meaning of sacrifice.
I encourage you to attend your local Remembrance Day service on November 11th or take a moment on the eleventh day, of the eleventh month to remember those that have sacrificed so much for us. I will be attending the Remembrance Day service in Fort Nelson this year.
Lest we forget.