SOUTH BROOK, NL — After a 29-year, well-decorated military career, retired Sgt. Rick Rowsell has a unique perspective on what Remembrance Day means to him and what it should mean to others.
The South Brook man served his country in various posts throughout Canada and as far away as Germany after enlisting in the summer of 1983. He served in Bosnia and did a United Nations tour in Western Sahara in Morocco.
Like so many, his service grew much more significant after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
Rowsell, originally from Port Anson, participated in multiple tours of duty in Afghanistan and the Middle East.
“It is something we had to do, needed to do,” Rowsell said. “I guess it is not something you necessarily want to do. But, once you are in the military and doing those sorts of things, it is what you are trained to do and it is good work.”
For most of his career, Rowsell was a loadmaster aboard the military’s Hercules and Boeing aircrafts. His duties including managing the weight and balance of the aircrafts — ensuring the safe loading, transporting and unloading of aerial cargos.
Settled in South Brook since 2013, the retired sergeant enjoys taking part in Remembrance Day ceremonies and special occasions that honour the service of the military. He believes it is very important to recognize the sacrifices of those who have enabled people to live a free life today.
“It makes you reflect on what they did, and their friends did — the ones who never came back home,” he said. “It is a chance to appreciate what they did for our freedom.
“It makes you think what you are doing is just as important as what they did.”
It is important to remember those who served in wars such as the First and Second World Wars and the Korean War, but not to lose sight of those continuing to serve today, he said.
“For me, to go to a Remembrance Day service it is to show the younger people there are still wars today – it is peacekeeping efforts today they need to see,” he said. “The younger people today need to see there are veterans that are not old. Veterans in the dictionary might be old people who served in the military for a long time. I don’t consider myself old.”
Rowsell said it is important for today’s young generation to realize war is not video games. A chance to talk to veterans can add realism to the sensationalized depiction of war that such mediums bring.
He attended the Remembrance Day ceremony in Springdale, and said there didn’t appear to be as many people there this year as last, which was disappointing to see. With Remembrance Day recognized as a holiday and some people getting time off work as a result, he said it should be better attended.
“They should make an effort, even if they have no military connection, especially if they have kids,” he said. “Bring them to the parade or service, giving them a opportunity to ask questions they may not necessarily ask at home.”
Rowsell says it is important to keep Remembrance Day alive, to keep it present and relative for today.