Thousands of people from Saskatchewan have made great sacrifices to fight for the Canadian Armed Forces over the last century.
For many people in the province, Remembrance Day is a chance to reflect on the lives of their loved ones who have served as soldiers.
'He became a prisoner of war [in Italy] and he lost his eyesight due to the lack of food' - Ron Guran
Ron Guran is a senior citizen living in Saskatoon. For him Remembrance Day is a time when he thinks of his father, who fought in both world wars.
“He became a prisoner of war [in Italy] and he lost his eyesight due to the lack of food…his job was picking up the bodies that were lost on the front lines,” Guran said.
Guran’s father eventually regained his vision after rehabilitation in Canada. Guran said it was very rare for his father to speak about the years he spent in combat.
Andrea Latsey also thinks of her father who immigrated to Saskatchewan from Hungary. She remembers that he was proud to serve in both world wars and fight for what he loved.
“I think of my dad and how he fought for this country and everybody’s rights,” Latsey explained.
This Remembrance Day is a particularly proud one for Latsey’s family as her father’s photo will be included in an online Remembrance Day project in Ottawa.
'The military to me was a family,' - George Sclavounos
“He is somebody in Saskatchewan that nobody in Ottawa knew about…I am just proud to put it out there that Frank Latsey (served) in the Canadian Air Force,” Latsey said.
Like Frank Latsey, George Sclavounos is also a Canadian immigrant.
Originally from Greece, Sclavounos grew up in Saskatchewan and went on to serve 15 years in the Canadian military (from 1977 to 1993). He remembers his time in the military fondly.
"The military to me was a family," Sclavounos said.
After his retirement Sclavounos says he felt separated from an important element of his life, until social networking reunited him with the soldiers he served with who were like brothers and sisters to him.
"Every three years we have an artillery reunion out in Shiloh, Manitoba," Sclavounos said.
Sclavounos says he travelled the world with the military serving in NATO peacekeeping missions. He says he enjoyed countless opportunities to experience history in a rare way.
"I was in Germany when the Berlin Wall fell. That was a big celebration," Sclavounos said.
For Saskatoon’s Ted Herd, the holiday is a time when he reflects on the time his children have spent over the years, serving in the United States Army. Herd’s two sons and grandson have collectively served on multiple tours in Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan.
“That’s why we are nice and free over here,” Herd said. “Places that they tell me about you don’t even think about being free. You’re under oppression all the time.”
'I have lost a number of friends who have passed on, as a result of the [Afghanistan] conflict,' - Rod Dignean
This year Herd has been asked to place a wreath to honour peacekeepers. He says he was chosen because he has three family members who have dedicated their lives as soldiers.
For others, Remembrance Day is a very personal affair. Saskatoon’s Rod Dignean returned home to the city two weeks ago from his tour in the Afghanistan conflict.
Dignean says his recent work with the Canadian military makes this Remembrance Day notable.
“I gained a greater appreciation of what it means to be a veteran and what it means to honour veterans who have gone before me…I have lost a number of friends who have passed on as a result of the conflict,” Dignean said.
Dignean is proud of his accomplishments as a First Nations soldier who was born and raised in Saskatchewan. He admits his home and family are never far from his mind while he is overseas.
“In my opinion it was probably harder for them than it was for me, simply because they were the ones that were home,” Dignean explained.
“Not necessarily hearing what was going on and just waiting for the day that I did come home.”