For Major Michael Lemire, a career military officer, there really is no place like home.
His parents, Joe and Sharon Lemire of Penticton couldn’t agree more.
They also know that waiting can be the hardest part for military families especially those deployed to combat zones.
Michael, 51, has spent much of his armed forces career overseas, including postings in war-torn Bosnia and Afghanistan.
“I would think at times, what if? What if that knock came on your door?” said Sharon.
“The bad stuff that went on he kept from us but we knew, it was something that never really left your mind.
“We would count down the months first, then the weeks and then the days until he came back.
“I can tell you those homecomings were pretty special times.”
Remembrance Day also has greater significance for the Lemires.
“When Michael was away it really did seem to make Remembrance Day extra special, it really brought home the sacrifices and the things a lot of men and women went through,” said Sharon.
Michael recently returned to Canada from a three-year military exchange program at the Langley Air Force Base in Virginia.
He is currently in charge of the military police wing at Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt.
Michael agreed with his mother about the importance of Nov. 11.
“I think back to when I first flew into Kandahar and within that week there were five Canadians who were killed and we had the ceremony on the ramp where they brought in the coffins, the padre spoke and they did the salute and they were loaded on the Canadian Herc (Hercules aircraft) and it flew away,” recalled Michael. “Those individuals, they gave all they had an hopefully when we leave here people don’t forget that.
“For me it’s just remembering all the soldiers and airmen and sailors but I also think when I’m there (on parade) about all the families of people who left and didn’t come back. Military life can be difficult on families.”
While he loves his job, Michael, who has a son and daughter, admitted it was difficult to see how mothers and fathers struggled to provide the necessities of life.
As part of their work in Afghanistan he and other Canadian soldiers would help where they could by delivering donated items to those in need.
“You would pull up to this small clay or dirt building or hut and the father would come out and the children and the only clothes they had were the ones that they were wearing,” said Michael. “All they’re trying to do is just to make it through the week.
“It was a good feeling seeing the smiles on the faces of the children but also seeing the smiles on the faces of the parents when they realize they’ve got food for a few days or the kids have shoes or boots to wear through the winter.”
As the person responsible for the security of the Kandahar base Michael found that kindness and understanding were often more effective than brute force.
But there were also the days when he was worried for his own safety and that of his team.
“We came under fire numerous times and there were certain situations when it could have gone either way,” said Michael. “It’s incredible when you go to places like Afghanistan you recognize that this (Canada) is not a bad place to live. It’s nice to come back home.”