Nothing was going to stop Allan Boyd from laying a wreath on Remembrance Day.
“If you’re still vertical, you don’t want to miss this stuff,” he said. “Dad was a veteran. I was in the peace-time navy.”
When Boyd arrived at the cenotaph from hospital last Friday, his friends and former B.C. Ambulance Service colleagues were at the wheel.
“We have one of the best ambulance and fire departments in the Bulkley Valley,” said Boyd, “And maybe I’m biased.”
Boyd proudly wore the B.C. Ambulance uniform last Friday, having spent nearly 20 years in the service and retiring as Houston unit chief.
“They’re never given enough credit,” he added, noting that Houston’s fire and ambulance crews train just like full-timers and often beat full-timers in competition.
Asked what he thinks about on Remembrance Day, Boyd’s answer came sharp and clear.
“The uselessness of it—people feeling that they need to kill each other for no reason,” he said.
“We make up reasons.”
Boyd joined the Royal Canadian Navy in 1958, when he was 18 years old.
Looking back, Boyd said he lucked out—he served in peace time, and when he left the navy Canada had no shortage of well-paying mining and forestry jobs.
“I live in a country that is so wealthy and just so taken for granted,” he said.
“I mean, you have to admit how lucky you are every time you get up in the morning—you’re not looking over your shoulder.”
Boyd said his father’s generation was not so lucky. Many who fought in the Second World War struggled when they returned home.
“They didn’t have a very good life,” he said.
Boyd’s father flew in the Royal Canadian Air Force, serving as a navigator on a Lancaster bomber.
When the war ended in 1945, Boyd’s father and pilot Steve Cosborne were the only two members of his squadron to come home alive.
Today, Boyd said Canadians are not only in danger of forgetting wars from the past—Canadians also overlook wars we are currently fighting.
“I think that we forget about the people who are coming home now from wars they don’t really understand,” he said.
In Afghanistan, he said, Canadian soldiers are trying to rebuild a country that other people are forever tearing down.
What Canadians need to remember about all wars isn’t hard to find, Boyd said. Poet and Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae found the right words in 1915.
“If we forget about In Flanders Fields, we’re going to forget an awful lot,” Boyd said. “I think that is the greatest remembrance we have.”