Saturday, November 11, 2006

A Day With the Girls

Now that I can download some images, I thought I would go crazy...

I was so excited to have Emily and Elizabeth stay with Don and I for a few days in the summer. We spent a day shopping and going to the Caledon Hills to the Badlands and then to a conservation area in Belfountain. The Badlands are always interesting to see and we did a small hike to the Belfountain falls and then waded into the creek.

Don insisted that we go to Canada's Wonderland and take Andre, a boy from Barbados. Great idea, except that it was the hottest day in the summer with the humidex being somewhere between 42 and 45! As you know, I melt in anything over 25 so I had a challenging day. Unfortunately I ended up spending a couple of hours laying down on the grass outside the park while Don and the crew finished going on the rides since I was having difficulty breathing.

I thought you might enjoy seeing pictures from our time with the girls(hopefully it all works well...). I think the girls had a great time. At the very least, they thought Uncle Don was a "funny man", a comment he repeats often to this day. He will tell me during his teasing moments (which happen quite frequently) that Elizabeth and Emily think he is a funny man...

In Flanders Field

I thought I would create an entry just for a special poem with a heartfelt story...

"In Flanders Field" was written by Liet.Col. John McCrae, a Canadian surgeon in WWI. He wrote the poem during the battle in Ypres after burying a friend. Wild poppies were growing in the ditches amidst so much death and destruction. It has come to symbolize remembrance since the red of the flower is the colour of blood. The yellow/black centre represents the mud and desolation. The green stem represents the forests and field where so many died. The poem is now also a haunting song.

John McCrae, himself, died later in the war in 1918. His last words were, "If ye break faith with us who die, we shall not sleep." How fitting...

IN FLANDERS FIELDS the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place, and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead.

Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders field

Remembering Remembrance Day

This has been a very emotional hour or two. It always is. As someone who loves reading about history the sacrifice of so many through war is touching...

I watch the Remembrance Day ceremony on tv. This year I considered being in Ottawa for the day - even if I was one of the 26,000 in the crowd it would still be a visible way of showing my appreciation, to applaud the vets during the parade. In the past many years as a society we are forgetting the importance of this day. You just need to watch the solemn ceremony to understand the need to never forget. I think it should be mandated that stores etc. should not be open until 1:00 on Remembrance Day so as a country we can honour the fallen. I remember as a child how people and traffic would stop at 11:00 to pause, think, mourn, remember. Can't we do that again? I feel embarrassed and disappointed by the number of people who see this as just another day. Here are just as few more of my thoughts o this day...

I think of how many people have forgotten or are not interested in knowing about significant battles and what they tell us about our country, such as Vimy Ridge. Perhaps now that so many young lives have been lost in Afghanistan we will want to be back in touch with our history.

I think of the story of Hanna's suitcase and the touching way the story came alive through a Japanese museum curator. It's interesting how this children's book has become a best seller in Japan yet as a country they have not recognized their part in the atrocities in World War II.

I think of the remaining vets. On such a cold, rainy day it is inspiring to watch these vets stand and salute their comrades. They are old (the average age of WWII vets on Canada is 85), sick and feeble, yet they stand for O'Canada, salute their friends, and participate in the veteran's parade with such pride. Their faces tell the story of the pain and horrors they saw and felt, yet year after year they participate willingly in events to honour the dead. Can't we do the same?

I think of the tomb of the unknown soldier and placing poppies on the tomb. Something I just learned... a headstone representing the unknown soldier has been placed in the war museum in such a way that on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month it would be basked in natural light. Wow!

I think of Don's grandfather who lied about his age so he could go to war. He volunteered for both the first and second world war. His other grandfather was disappointed to not go to war - he was turned away because of flat feet.

I think of my own grandfathers who each participated in WWII - one as a foot soldier and one through the Red Shield Services. I wish time could stand still or I could take time back. I would have spent more time with them as a grand-daughter asking them questions and listening to their stories. A part of their gruffness and how they perceived life is due, in part, to their wartime experiences. I am proud of them and their willingness to go. Papa Sears found it difficult to talk about, as did most vets. It isn't until recent years that vets are so willing to now talk about what they went through. We need to embrace their stories, write them down, and keep them in our hearts.

I think of the mothers and other family members who lost sons, daughters, husbands, wives, brothers and sisters. The mom who represented all moms today is from Newfoundland. She told a story of her son who had a strong sense of duty. He served in Kosovo and Afghanistan. When he was leaving Kosovo he met a man who was cold because he didn't have a winter coat, so he took off his jacket and his cap and gave it to the man.

I promise I will not forget. I promise to wear my poppy. As written before, I would love to go to Ottawa to recognize the vets. Anyone on up for it next year?