As Remembrance Day approaches, today’s soldiers are pausing to reflect on those who came before them.
Cpl. Joseph Ricci works behind a desk Monday to Friday, but on the weekends he laces up his military boots, puts on his crisp uniform and practices his combat skills.
The five-year member of the Royal Regina Rifles said being a soldier has “always been a symbol of pride” for him.
His unit is nicknamed the “Farmer Johns” after a group of Saskatchewan farmers who volunteered for the World Wars, becoming the first generation of the Rifles.
“Just thinking about those guys who (were) younger than I am now, volunteering to go fight in a war they knew nothing about. Wearing less (military gear) than I am, fighting in climates much more uncomfortable than I am,” Ricci said.
“It’s humbling and it’s sobering.”
He’s been preparing for more complicated training ahead of a 2018 assignment where his unit will be supporting some of the regular forces. This includes firing weapons while crouched on the cold, hard ground at Camp Dundurn.
“Every time I feel that I’m uncomfortable I just think how much worse generations before me have had it,” Ricci said.
Lieutenant-colonel Stacy A. Grubb, commanding officer of the Rifles, said Remembrance Day is a time for reflection for all soldiers.
He noted many people don’t realize men and women are still coming home from conflict zones, including Ukraine, Syria and Iraq where they train local military forces.
“This time of year is a sober time for veterans of all ages, so when I see people wearing the poppy I think of my soldiers that I’ve served with,” Grubb said.
The regular forces member also said this time of year makes him think of the officers who mentored him throughout his career.
“My past commanders have influenced me greatly. There’s little bits of each of my past commanders in the way I operate and work today,” Grubb said.
He said he’s humbled by the achievements of his soldiers and astonished by how many chief executive officers, presidents and municipal leaders are in the reserves.