Saturday, November 11, 2006

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?

1 comment:

Jenn said...

i think my generation was the first to grow up without a war that affected us going on. even these days there is iraq and afghanistan. i'm a late appreciator of the war vets. one of my favourite things to do as a nursing students was sit with the vets (we had time back then) and listen to their stories.