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The best way you can thank a veteran is to get out and vote

A Scottish friend of mine recently received his Canadian citizenship, along with his wife and two adult children.

A Scottish friend of mine recently received his Canadian citizenship, along with his wife and two adult children. While he still embraces his Scottish roots (he hasn't lost his awesome accent), you will be hard pressed to find anyone more thrilled to be a Canadian citizen.

During his swearing in ceremony, the presiding judge spoke of what being a citizen of Canada means. He spoke of Canada's freedom and how it affects us every day.

Simply put, the freedom we enjoy today is due in large part to the unselfish sacrifice of the people who put on a uniform to defend our country, especially those who stood in harm's way. These people have protected the rest of us so that we can live our lives in peace and security.

It's strange that new citizens learn and appreciate this, perhaps more than those of us who were born here do.

With Remembrance Day coming up this weekend, it is a time to remember the sacrifice our veterans have made for us. We'll pin a poppy on our lapel, attend the ceremony at the cenotaph at Ladner's Memorial Park, shed a tear and move on with our lives.

The closest most of us will come to seeing a war is catching a re-run of Saving Private Ryan or watching a documentary about D-Day on the History Channel. Our parents and grandparents don't like to talk about the experience because they have spent a lifetime trying to put it behind them. From the First World War to Afghanistan, our veterans did what was needed at the time in order to protect the Canadian way of life for future generations.

How do we repay their service? We drop a dollar or two in a tin cup and wear a poppy for a couple of weeks. We take advantage of a day off to look after some chores or spend time with our family. Our veterans died so we would have that freedom. They died so that we could determine our own future.

They died to preserve our democracy. They died so we can vote.

Every time we have an election, the voter turnout gets smaller and smaller. In the last provincial election voter turnout was 50 per cent, down from 58 per cent previously. The municipal election was worse as only 34 per cent turned out.

That means two of every three eligible voters couldn't take the five minutes required to exercise the democratic privilege so many died to preserve for you.

It's one thing to remember what our veterans have done for us; it's another to truly honour the sacrifice they made to protect our way of life. The best way to show real respect is by voting. Federal, provincial, municipal, it doesn't matter. Next time, just vote.

While it's nice to wear a poppy and say we are thinking of our veterans once a year, we can better show our gratitude by fulfilling the dream they fought for and, for some, paid the ultimate price.

New Canadians learn this. It's something the rest of us should try to remember as well.