It is Rememberance Day again, a time for all of us to take some time out of our busy lives and remember all of the men and women who have defended this country and protected the innocent around the world. They have done a lot for us, and too often are forgotten when they are no longer needed.

I always like to take this opportunity to think about all of my family members who have served, and how rough it was for them and how much they have sacrificed.

First on the list is my grandpa, Ernie Frazer, who served with the Royal Canadian Air Force in the coastal patrol during World War II. He was 24 years old, and had spent his entire life a few miles outside of a tiny farming village in Saskatchewan. He and his brother and two friends of theirs agreed to volunteer together, and they all went into the big city to enlist in the air force. Except the other three guys all had medical problems and were rejected – only Ernie was selected. Sixty years later he was still a little emotional when he recalled having to leave home all alone.

They trained him to be a flight engineer and navigator, and sent him to the Canadian west coast to serve. He and the three other guys in his crew would fly a CANSO float-plane (which was the Canadian equivalent of the PBY used in the US) around Vancouver Island and the northern coast looking for Japanese ships or planes. When he first arrived, he asked where his parachute was – and the commander told him that he didn't get one because where they were serving a crash would be fatal anyway.

They were also responsible for some search-and-rescue duties, and I remember grandpa tearing up when he told me a few years ago about being ordered to watch another plane – and a crew he had known and worked with – as they crashed into the water. They had to watch as their fellow flight crew headed into certain injury and probably death and then record the details of the crash. My grandpa was a very kind man, and to watch that when he was only in his twenties must have been horrible.

Second on the list is my other grandpa, George Bird, who served as a ship's carpenter in the Canadian Navy. I never had a chance to meet him, but I have been told that he chose to enlist and help the war effort. He had just married a few years earlier, and had a young daughter and later an infant son as well. I think that he had believed that by enlisting he could choose where he served – and he and his family were only a few miles from CFB Esquimalt so he intended to serve there. But the military doesn't like soldiers being close to home, so instead he was assigned to a navy base in Halifax,NS on the east coast. I guess he didn't talk about his service much, because I have no idea what his experiences were in the navy.

Third on the list is my uncle, Donald Frazer, who served as a UN peacekeeper in Cyprus in the 1960s. The family may have gotten split up in recent years and there always seem to be feuds, but back then everyone supported and worried about him when he went off. As I understand it, he was a 17-year-old kid tired of struggling through high school, so he dropped out and joined the army. He signed up for three years, and apparently soon regretted that decision. But he went over to the Mediterranean and served the UN forces keeping peace on the island of Cyprus – a task which most Canadians forget about because it isn't as glorified as the big wars, but a task which was important nonetheless.

And then there are the families that must suffer for the wars. I remember many years ago talking to my great-aunt Olive who was widowed young because of war. Her husband was a doctor who had served in WWI, and got hit with mustard gas. He survived the war and went on to marry and have children, but then one day many years later fate caught up to him. He needed surgery (I believe it was for appendicitis) and they had to give him ether first. What they didn't realize is that they mustard gas had damaged his lungs, and when they put him under they ended up killing him instead. And so his wife had to raise young children while also financially supporting the family. And yet when I met her many years later she was cheerful and you would have never guessed at what she had been through.

I apologize to all of the other extended family who I haven't listed, but I remember your service as well. Another uncle and a cousin who both served in the Canadian navy - I will always remember when as a child my cousin's ship was visiting CFB Esquimalt, and he gave my brother and I a tour of his ship. I don't even remember the year, but it was a very special event in my memory. I also remember many great-uncles who were as kind as could be, and later being told that they were front-line soldiers in WWII. And other great-uncles who could only survive the horror of the front-lines by drinking until they forget. I remember being told about a great-uncle who was so badly injured during the war that he had to spend the rest of his life in a care home for veterans, and a more distant cousin who enlisted in WWI and died on the battlefield when he was only about 20.

So take a moment on this rememberance day to think about what these men and women have suffered and sacrificed, and let us all try to live up to the gift they have given to each of us.