Before anyone close to me had died, my early reflection on death took place most routinely sitting on gymnasium floors during Remembrance Day assemblies on November 11th each year.
I even remembering colouring pages with poppies on them in Grade 1.
These early experiences stirred my imagination in gradual and subtle ways.
As I got older, the school assemblies became more intense. Parents of soldiers who had graduated from my high school came and spoke to us about the wars in which they had died.
These assemblies connected seemingly far-off history and geography with the particularity of my life.
A few years ago, a good friend of mine and I travelled throughout Normandy to various war sites.
This trip created new memories to which my mind now returns each Remembrance Day.
Here are some photos from the monuments at Vimy Ridge:
These monuments evoke a sense of the solemnity of the sacrifice of life for freedom and peace.
From those gym floors to the monument at Vimy Ridge, my civic education in the sacrifice of soldiers has forged my character and sense of responsibility as a citizen.