For military veteran Joe Short, Remembrance Day happens 365 days a year.
Short, who served for 37 years in Canada’s Armed Forces, said the day isn’t just for those who sacrificed their lives for their country, but also the families who made sacrifices for the war effort back home.
“Families had to give up a lot of things to support the war effort; I remember as a youngin, they came in and all our plows were taken because they needed them to make armor,” said Short.
“Our cream was separated, sent in, we got a certain percentage back and we were on ration control books—our parents sacrificed a lot to support the war effort, to support the guys who were out there defending the world against things that shouldn’t happen. Greed mostly.”
Short joined the military in January, 1956 when he entered the reserve force to take infantry training before going into Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry the following November.
He served everywhere from Norway to Alaska and Egypt to Cypress, then transferred all over the Canadian provinces.
Short added the infantry training was no Sunday walk in the park.
“They were treating us the same as they treated people training for the Second World War,” he said.
“They give you a taste of what it really was like, then from there I served in many different areas like Nome, Alaska and into Norway.”
He also used to belong to an elite air force group, known for its nomadic lifestyle, staying in a different place every night.
Short said he spent four years with the group, and its primary job was to resupply friendly forces in the areas it travelled to.
“I enjoyed my lifestyle in the military, sometimes it was hell and you have to be a certain type of person to stay in the military and take what they throw at you, but it made me a better person,” he said.
“It made me a good leader. It made me understand people more. It made me treat people the way I’d like to be treated. This was part of my education in the military and I’m proud to have served.”
Aside from his close relationship with the military, Short said the reason he observes Remembrance Day 365 days a year came from an experience he had while visiting Holland with his family.
They came across a woman who had every type of poppy one could think of growing in her yard, and when she caught them admiring her garden, she asked if she could be of help to them.
“We said we were Canadians and all of a sudden we all got hugs; I told her I was impressed with her poppies and she said, ‘I have these poppies 365 days a year—I don’t have it just one day a year,’” explained Short.
“I took that on and said that’s it for me too—honouring our fallen, that they gave their lives to protect ours so we can do and say what we want, we have that freedom now.”