Remembrance Day, Nov. 11, is little more than a week away.
And while Canadians across the nation will no doubt take a few moments to remember all of those who gave their lives in service of their country, the occasion will hold special significance for the Collier family here in Bradford.
After all, next Friday will mark the second Remembrance Day the family has observed without their son, Sapper Brian Collier, who was killed on active duty in Afghanistan on July 20, 2010.
That first Remembrance Day was very hard to get through, Carol Collier explained, as it had only been a few months since her son’s death. The pain of her family’s loss was still very fresh, she added.
That being said, Mrs. Collier doesn’t expect this year to be any less difficult. The grief she feels over her son’s death remains raw.
“Every time I hear ‘The Last Post’ it makes me cry,” she said. “I don’t think it will ever get any easier.”
She recently returned to work for the first time in a year or so and it’s been a tough transition, she said. Her co-workers naturally want to know how she’s been doing and how she’s been coping with her loss and every question brings back a rush of emotions.
“I’ve basically hibernated for the last year,” Mrs. Collier said. “It’s like going back to day one for me in a way.”
Beyond queries about her well-being, many also ask her on how things are coming with respect to a memorial for her son.
For a long time, there wasn’t much to report on that front.
Earlier this year, Mrs. Collier herself suggested that naming the new Bradford West Gwillimbury Leisure Centre, or even one of its ice pads, in memory of her son might serve as a fitting tribute but there was no official response.
However, that all changed earlier this week.
A lasting memorial to Sapper Collier is something council has been discussing for quite some time, Mayor Doug White explained yesterday morning. He met with the family personally last week and, at Tuesday’s council meeting, the decision was made to name the stretch of road that runs between the library and the new leisure centre, from West Park Drive over to Holland Street West, after the fallen soldier, he said, adding a tribute is also planned for inside the leisure facility.
“(The street naming) will have a significant impact,” Mr. White said. “It will be a place where people will meet for community events, such as the Terry Fox Run, and also how people will get to the library and the new leisure centre.”
On top of that, a number of Bradford West Gwillimbury firefighters are also planning on paying tribute to Sapper Collier’s memory and will create a small memorial in Veterans Park not far from the family’s home. It’s a fitting spot, Mrs. Collier said.
“It’s hard for me to step back and let others do it, but it’s an honour that they do,” she said. “It really is.”
For now, though, Mrs. Collier is just hopeful that people will honour her son by paying Remembrance Day the respect it deserves even if that means thanking a veteran and/or a soldier, attending a ceremony in their community or, if nothing else, observing a moment of silence. She’s also hopeful people will support the Royal Canadian Legion’s annual Poppy campaign.
“The red on the poppy is the blood that we shed,” Mrs. Collier said. “It should be a solemn day of remembrance and not just for Brian, but for everyone who is putting their life on the line.”
For their part, the Colliers intend to observe the Remembrance Day ceremony at CFB Borden Nov. 11 and will be joined by the captain he served under in Afghanistan along with some of his friends and comrades.