There were 100 000 Canadians who were killed in war just so we could have freedom. One of those Canadians was my great, great uncle, George Phillips. At the age of 22, on February 12, 1915 he enlisted with many others to fight in World War I.
On the night of June 26, 1916 George Phillips, one of the wire cutters, bayoneted two Germans. Then he got into a shell hole where by the light of flares engaged the German parapet until all his ammunition was gone. It was because of this brave and courageous action that he won the Military Medal.
Unfortunately, on the night of October 9, 1916 in Gueudecourt, France PTE. George Phillips was killed in action. He was buried in the grave of an unknown soldier and his name is inscribed on the Beaumont Hamel Memorial. PTE. George Phillips was als o awarded the 1914-1915 Star, the War Medal and the Victory Medal.
George Phillips was also the only Newfoundlander who won the medal of St. George 3rd class (Russian). This medal was awarded to soldiers, sisters of mercy, and members of the Red Cross Institutions and hospitals.
On the 11th month, the 11th day and the 11th hour Canadians will stop and remember those brave and courageous men and women who paid the supreme sacrifice for something we easily take for granted each day -- Freedom. Many men and women died just so w e could have freedom to worship our God, go to school, choose our friends and numerous other privileges. This freedom should be cherished and the men and women who fought for it should never be forgotten but remembered each day.
But what can I do to show that I cherish this freedom? How can I show I am thankful? How do I show others that I honor and respect these people? Wearing a poppy and placing a wreath on a memorial is a very reverent thing to do, but, if that is all I do then my honoring of the war dead is really a very shallow gesture. Following World War I and World War II people showed that they honor and respect the people who died for us by building schools, hospitals, and universities. They worked very hard i n their communities to build a country that the war dead would be proud of. It seems that this generation, however, may be thinking of destroying this country. Provinces want to separate from Canada! Don't they remember the 100 000 Canadians who died f or our freedom? Doesn't that matter? Yes, it matters that men and women volunteered to lay down their lives for our freedom! How then can I, by my actions, honor these men and women? What voluntary work can I do in my community to help make my community a better place? I can become a leader in youth groups, teach children how to be good citizens, help set up food banks to help feed people who are less fortunate.
I can also help senior citizens with little chores such as raking leaves, bringing in wood or even just visiting them.
As John McCrae said in his poem "In Flanders Fields", "To you with failing hands we throw the torch; be yours to hold it high". My great, great uncle, George Phillips, has passed the torch unto me, and it is my turn to hold it high and to do my best to make my community and my country the best that it can be.
After all, as John F. Kennedy said, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country".