Ian White Remembers

Flames defenceman Ian White recognizes Canadian Forces members as true national heroes. (RANDON...

Flames defenceman Ian White recognizes Canadian Forces members as true national heroes. (RANDON McKAY/QMI Agency file photo)

STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:32 PM ET

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Strolling through American airports in the days before Remembrance Day, there are plenty of poppies pinned to jacket lapels of travelers in memory of the Canadian war heroes who died to keep our country free.

Many of those sporting the red flowers are members of the road-tripping Calgary Flames, who are often called heroes themselves by young and star-struck fans.

Defenceman Ian White is quick to remind others what kind of people that title really belongs to.

“We get looked up to by lots of people. Probably more children would rather be hockey players than soldiers,” said White.

“It’s a tough job and a tough thing to do, but soldiers are definitely way beyond any type of hero you could label us as.

“Just look at what they do day in and day out. It’s really amazing.”

The 26-year-old White has been honouring soldiers the best way he can this season by purchasing two tickets to every Flames home game and giving them to members of the Canadian Forces.

While the Flames are on the road this Remembrance Day, there was a special ceremony at the Saddledome before the game against the Detroit Red Wings last week, with the White’s Heroes campaign — inspired in part by his late grandfather, Gerald White, who served in the Second World War as a member of the Royal Winnipeg Rifles — front and centre.

“I just believe strongly in our country’s values, and the stuff they do every day. They sacrifice their lives so we can play hockey and live freely in our great country,” White said. “It’s an amazing thing for a person to do, to be able to sacrifice themselves every day for a cause that they all believe in.

“Sometimes I think it gets a little overshadowed. I just felt it’s something I could do. It’s not a huge thing, but I can give them thanks.”

Connecting with the meaning of Remembrance Day is growing more and more difficult for younger generations lacking any real grasp of the wars so distant in history.

But when a member of your family served, the day and the poppy have real significance.

“I was pretty young when I was hearing his stories, so they’re not too vivid,” White said of his grandfather’s tales from overseas. “He was a great soldier and well liked by everyone. Just a real tough Canadian.”

By meeting members of the Canadian Forces after games, White gets to hear more about what modern service is all about.

“Most of them haven’t been overseas, but most of them are going. They couldn’t be more excited to help our country and do whatever it takes,” White said.

“I know they appreciate it a lot.”

Probably not as much as White appreciates what they do for a living.

steve.macfarlane@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/MacfarlaneSteve


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