Kim Cooper recounts how agricultural business trips led to gratitude for the military

A poppy stands in the middle of a field beside the Bretteville-sur-Laize Canadian War Cemetary during the 70th Anniversary of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy ceremony at Bretteville-sur-Laize, France, on June 7, 2014. Photo: MCpl Marc-Andre Gaudreault, Canadian Forces Combat Camera
A poppy stands in the middle of a field beside the Bretteville-sur-Laize Canadian War Cemetary during the 70th Anniversary of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy ceremony at Bretteville-sur-Laize, France, on June 7, 2014.
Photo: MCpl Marc-Andre Gaudreault, Canadian Forces Combat Camera

Editor’s Note: Cooper’s article below is a little late due to him having recently recovered from major surgery. The CKReview published this piece, a week after Thanksgiving, because of the very passionate account Cooper provided of his travels. The CKReview maintains the article below is a must read and that there is never a wrong time to express gratitude.

By Kim Cooper

I have stated many times how fortunate we are when it comes to our producers and our food production capabilities. As part of the Chatham-Kent community, and as part of the country of Canada, we really do have much to be thankful for. I know we hear this so much, especially at this time of year. But it’s true. I don’t have a good answer about why, here in Canada, we have it so good, while in others parts of the world, such as Haiti, Sudan, Syria, North Korea, and so many other areas, people are suffering.

We have recently celebrated Remembrance Day, and part of the reason for Canada’s freedom comes from our stand for democracy and our fight against the world forces wanting people to live in fear, suffering and oppression.

In my agricultural business travels, I took the opportunity of visiting some significant historic sites that have altered my view on life and on war.

At Vimy Ridge, I walked through the same World War I trenches our soldiers did over 90 years ago.  They were only feet away from the enemy’s trenches. No wonder so many died. I saw the rolling landscape due to the thousands of bombs that pounded the land during the battle. I walked through the underground tunnel. I saw where our Canadian soldiers slept, ate, fought and died.

In Flanders, I visited the largest Commonwealth war cemetery. It contained thousands of white markers, row after row after row. Before I left, I sat and scanned the entire cemetery.  A humble and sobering feeling overwhelmed me and all my tear soaked eyes could see was the blur of white stones marking the graves of so many young and innocent lives.

Dieppe was the site of one of the great losses in Canadian war history. I stood and looked out over the beaches of Dieppe and tried to envision our soldiers being cut down by enemy fire before they ever reached land. I can still remember the wind howling throughout the night, reminding me of the very real horrors of war.

In Hiroshima, Japan, I watched Japanese men, women and children walking past the memorials and reminders of the atomic bomb devastation. I saw very real reminders of war in the scars, missing limbs and body malformations of hundreds of people.

In Germany, I visited Buchenwald concentration camp. I stood in stunned silence, overlooking this now serene place. The setting sun threw shadows across the landscape and I could almost hear the desperate and anguished cries of men, women, and children.

I have learned so much through these experiences, but one thing stands out, there is nothing glamorous about war. I realize, in a very small way, what hundreds of thousands of men and women and families sacrificed and went through for me. Freedom which meant blood that spilled on fields, oceans, and in the air so many years ago and so far away from home. This is what paid for the freedom we unfortunately take so much for granted in our country.

I offer my thanks to the men and women who served. To all the families who lost a loved one, thank you for what you gave up. To those who sacrificed so much and sent family members over to an unknown land, thank you. To those who are still living with physical and emotional scars, and haunted by past horrors and memories, I am sorry. My generation and the generations following me really have no idea of what you went through. But we are so grateful you did.

Just some real food for thought.

Here in Chatham-Kent ‘WE GROW FOR THE WORLD’! Check out our website at www.wegrowfortheworld.com.

Kim Cooper has been involved in the agribusiness sector for over 40 years. You can also follow him on Twitter at theAGguy.

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