Editorial – ‘Fred’

Chris Clegg

This Friday many of us will pay our respects at Remembrance Day ceremonies. Many of us will wear a poppy. Many will watch shows on TV or read about past wars.
Unlike Europe, North America has been blessed. No major wars have been fought on our soil. Instead, we have shipped our men and women overseas to fight in Europe, Korea, the Persian Gulf, etc.
War is a messy business. To think the human race could create something that inflicts so much misery and pain on its population is mind-boggling.
But, and we do not like to acknowledge this, we are animals!
Each veteran has his/hew own story. Each is worth noting. It should be noted the atrocities of war are so horrible some cannot talk about what they encountered. Indeed, many are scarred for life and need continuous counselling and support. Sadly, some do not make it.
Yet, it was people like Fred who signed up and willingly went. There were hundreds of thousands of people like Fred. They knew they had to step forward and fight the evil in the world, many knowing when they left their homes they would not return.
Each veteran is special, but Fred’s case, although not unique, is interesting. His name was Fred Knott and he was a farm labourer in the Fairview area. He had not married and had no children, so the urge to go was purely of love for the British Empire and a sense of duty.
Knott enlisted in the Second World War and was seriously hurt on the front lines. After treatment he was shipped home to live a life of meagre existence. Knott refused all benefits he was entitled to until the last few years of his life. Fred did not go overseas for the later benefits and pay, he went for other reasons. The right reasons, although no one would bat an eye if Fred had claimed what was rightfully his and owned to him by the people of Canada.
Instead, Fred lived in an old granary with a wood stove. He barely scraped by. He was found one winter morning in a snowbank, dead from exposure.
What a terrible demise for one of our honoured veterans! One of our heroes!
Fred, however, would be the first to tell everyone to not cry for him. He exemplified the dedication and courage of our veterans who gave up so much. It was never about him. It was for the cause.
Fred was one of the few veterans who shared his stories. Not with this writer but this writer’s brother. What a gift Fred passed along to those willing to listen. It was a shame more did not listen.
TV and film try its best to capture the horrors or war. We see all the blood and guts, killing and misery, total chaos, and left to wonder why. Why! Who does this?
“You have to remember there was a reason,” Capt. James T. Kirk tells a grieving widow in a chapel, in an original Star Trek episode, shortly after she lost her fiancé in battle.
“I’ll be alright,” she replies.
This Nov. 11, we remember our veterans past and present but we also must remember there was a reason. Evil must be fought, no matter how terrible the loss.
We give thanks for the sacrifices of our veterans and uphold that sacred promise to never forget.
God Bless our veterans!

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