HUMBOLDT — Remembrance Day looks different to Colby Hogemann now compared to when he was a kid.
The Afghanistan veteran takes the day off and remembers not just the soldiers who didn’t make it home, but the ones that are still serving. For him, it is a more important day than his birthday.
“For me, I just be there, try to remember the best I can for guys that I know who lost their lives while I was there... I still have lots of friends who are still in. I have an ex-roommate, he’s in Jordan. I’ll remember him until he comes home.”
Coming out of high school, Hogemann didn’t know what he wanted to do. He knew he did not want to go into post-secondary education and he heard about military opportunities through a teacher’s husband.
Hogemann spent a year and a half in the reserves before serving in Afghanistan, driving a tank for five years with the Lord Strathcona’s Horse Royal Canadians before coming home.
For him, the military offered him structure, leadership, family, and the ability to work towards what you want.
“I think I got that quality from the military because you strive for things you really want to do. If you strive to be a master corporal, you into your courses, you have to be top notch on your courses to get the division.”
Being part of the military were the best years of his life, Hogemann said but he also had to deal with being away from family and friends for months at a time. That took its toll.
“You miss a lot of things in people’s lives. That was probably the hardest part.”
Hogemann is open about what he’s seen. He said living through five years in Afghanistan, especially as the lead call-sign, means you have to push the difficult thoughts into the back of your mind.
“That’s it for everybody. You put it into the back of your minds, do your job, and then everybody will come home. The worst can happen but you can’t think about that 24/7 or you’re not going to do your job and you might make a mistake.”
Going through something like that, he said, you understand the importance of Remembrance Day.
“Back then, you were told what it was and why it existed, but, as a kid, you don’t really fully understand until you get older; the conflicts they went through and reading about their history.”
During that time, Hogemann also did not have anyone he knew in the military, he added. He knows that Remembrance Day is different for his nieces and nephews since their uncle gives them that connection.