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Lessons, sacrifices remembered by veterans

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Against background of current conflicts, Remembrance Day holds special meaning

As the nation prepares to spare a thought for the servicemen and women who have served their country, retired air force Colonel Brian Titterton says Remembrance Day should also be about educating youth about the events that lead to war.

"It’s important young people can recognize the kinds of problems that lead to war in the first place so they can avoid it," said Titterton.

As politicians continue to debate the merits of the war in Iraq and how best to rebuild Afghanistan, Titterton said a better understanding of the issues might help avoid such conflicts in the future.

Titterton dedicated his life to the airforce, joining at age 19 and serving for 35 years, during which time he flew fighter aircraft such as Sabres and Starfighters in Europe, the U.S. and Canada.

In 1988 Titterton retired from his post with the Supreme Allied Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium and moved to Whistler.

Titterton admitted that although his job was risky, like many others, he was attracted to the adventure and the pride that one develops in their unit.

"It really was a big adventure – there was the excitement of moving away from home, then the uncertainty of what type of plane I would fly,’’ Titterton said.

Hundreds of Canadians who were attracted by the same sense of adventure as Titterton are now leading the peacekeeping effort in Afghanistan.

A short distance away, thousands of troops involved with the "coalition of the willing" are fighting to restore stability in Iraq.

"They (the peacekeepers) have to stay and see it through now," Titterton said.

"It’s the same situation in Iraq. They’ve made the commitment and now they have to do whatever they can to get the job done."

As the country remembers the 11 th hour, on the 11 th day of the 11 th month, which is when the final guns sounded to mark the end of the Second World War, many will be filled with emotions about the ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Protests continue almost daily around the world about the presence of the "coalition of the willing" in Iraq and the continued loss of life on both sides.

In addition to the bloodshed, the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq have raised many questions about the relevance of the United Nations and its role in international politics. But Titterton said a unified approach to peacekeeping was always a better option.

"It doesn’t always nip the problem in the bud but to ‘internationalize’ problems, I would think that that would be a better way of solving problems – together."

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