Mike Wind is all smiles after a 10 km. forced march.

Who I am, where I live is a direct result of their sacrifices

I was a soldier with the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry for four years in the 1980s

Remembrance Day has a personal and significant meaning for me on a number of levels.

I’m the son of Dutch immigrants who lived through the German occupation of Holland during WWII. A country that was liberated by Canadian-led forces during the five-week long battle of the Scheldt in October through November 1944, at a cost of 6367 Canadian casualties (killed, wounded or missing). Their sacrifices allowed my father’s family the freedom to start a new life in Canada in 1954 – as well as my mother who immigrated to Canada three years later.

Who I am, where I live and the freedoms I enjoy today are a direct result of their sacrifices.

But for me that is not the only connection nor is it the main source of my thoughts on Remembrance Day. I was a soldier with the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry for four years in the 1980s and to this day it remains the fondest, most adventurous four-year stretch of my life.

The military gave me numerous life experiences in a short period of time that I would not have achieved otherwise. Basic training showed me that your body can be pushed farther than your brain thinks it can. It also showed me that greater success can be achieved through teamwork rather than individual effort.

I gained a true sense of camaraderie, a feeling of belonging that I had never known before or since. Stationed in Germany for two years, it allowed me to experience numerous different countries and cultures. That included my parents’ homeland, for not only did I get a chance to meet aunts, uncles and cousins but I also participated in the International Four Days Marches Nijmegen (marching 160 km in four days while wearing standard combat clothing and carrying a military backpack weighing at least 10 kg).

Canadian troops participating in the marches are treated like celebrities. We marched to the applause of bystanders and children asking for souvenirs and autographs. The appreciation the Dutch have for the Canadian troops who liberated them has been passed down through the generations to this day and it truly was an amazing experience that brought me full circle to my ancestry.

I’ve been to Belgium and walked through preserved World War I trenches with a knowledge of how miserable, wet, cold, depressing and dangerous the conditions were for the men there. I’ve been to some of the beautifully kept military cemeteries in Europe and have read and touched the Gravestones of the Canadian soldiers who paid the ultimate price for freedom and I feel a kinship to them, a true sense of pride.

My military career ended in Germany because of a spinal cord injury which rendered me a quadriplegic. Had the military not been my career I would not enjoy the quality of life, nor the level of independence, I do today.

Veterans Affairs provides far more for me with respect to income, medical coverage and equipment coverage than I ever would have achieved otherwise.

When Remembrance Day comes around – and many times throughout the year – my thoughts go back to those times and experiences. I also think of current events and the soldiers participating in them today (some of whom I’ve known and soldiered with 20 odd years ago).

I feel their hardship, their time away from their friends and families, the horrors of war that they might be subjected to and I mourn their losses.

But I also feel a bit envious of their positive experiences, their adrenaline-rushing experiences, their scared-to-death experiences and their experience of being with a tight-knit, well-trained group of people who have each other’s back.

By Mike Wind

Special to the Mirror

 

Just Posted

Man suffering heart attack not allowed to board Quadra Island ferry

Quadra Island man recovering after being airlifted to hospital in Victoria

Oyster River salmon numbers bouyant, Quinsam/Campbell data not so

By Neil Cameron Special to the Mirror In a tale of two… Continue reading

Boy with terminal disease gets his wish – a trip to Disneyland – but family still looking for support

Kaleb Francis, 4, was diagnosed last month with X-linked myotubular myopathy

Local artisan calls new Marine Harvest brand ‘inappropriate,’ too close to his Indigenous name

Salmon farming company prepares for name change amid objections from Mowisaht Designs

The Nutcracker comes alive in two Campbell River performances

River-Port Danceworks show featured professional dancers Danielle Gould and Giovanni Giordano

Retired B.C. teacher a YouTube Sudoku sensation

A retired Kelowna teacher has amassed quite the following online by teaching the art of solving a Sudoku puzzle.

Girl, 6, lured from elementary school, sexually assaulted: Vancouver police

Police are seeking dashcam footage from nearby Sexsmith Elementary School in South Vancouver

B.C. Liberals call for outside audit of Speaker’s office, NDP refuses

Auditor General implicated in Darryl Plecas accusations of impropriety

Three victims of ex-ski coach Bertrand Charest suing Alpine Canada

The victims are also seeking $150,000 each in punitive damages

Trudeau names four new senators, filling every seat in the Senate

Trudeau has appointed 49 senators since becoming prime minister and will have the chance to appoint more in 2019

B.C. member of parliament takes feds to task on opioid crisis

‘Too many families are tragically losing parents, siblings and children to the opioid crisis.’

Judge gives Michael Cohen 3 years in prison

Judge William H. Pauley III said Cohen deserved a harsh punishment for crimes including tax evasion

Humboldt Broncos, cannabis, Fortnite: Here are Canadians’ top Google searches for 2018

When celebrities died or Canada Post went on strike, Canada turned to Google

Most Read