“Why is there a traffic jam?” my four-year old asked from the backseat of the car. The highway was backed up a ways. At the front was a line of flashing red lights. And although we couldn’t see it from our vantage point, I knew that the police were accompanying a young soldier home.
I want to shelter my children. I want them to stay innocent as long as possible. So I didn’t tell my daughter that this soldier had lost his life and was coming home to be laid to rest. I didn’t tell her that there are senseless acts of violence happening all the time in the world and that they sometimes happen on our own soil. I didn’t tell her that there is evil in the world that can sometimes hit close to home and shake us to the core.
I didn’t tell her that the man lost his life while serving his country. Or that a mother and a father lost their son. Or that a sister lost her brother. Or that a child lost his father.
What I did tell her was that a soldier was coming to Hamilton. That he was a hero because soldiers are very special people who protect our country from bad things and bad people. That throngs of people came out to honour this soldier because he deserves to be honoured. That we should always honour our soldiers.
My daughter is only four years old. So I sheltered her.
You know, as much as most parents want to shelter their children, there are places where it isn’t possible. There are children in other parts of the world who are confronted with violence and death on a daily basis. There are children who see and experience unspeakable things. Every. Single. Day.
They have no choice.
It is because of those who serve our country that I am able to shelter my little girl. It is because of countless men and women that have sacrificed their lives that I have the freedom to raise my family in safety.
Tonight, as my four-year old and I watched the procession from afar, the tears fell. I have never been more grateful for our soldiers.
To everyone who has served our country, thank you.