Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Lest We Forget

Today is Remembrance Day, where it once was a national holiday, today only the banks and government run organizations have it off. That makes me sad; Remembrance Day to me is a time to honour our fallen soldiers, and those who survived. We must honour them for it's because of them that we are able to live so freely. It galls me that I don't see more poppies on people's coats as the scurry by on their way to work. I want to yell at them "where is your honour, where is your respect?" But theirs is the right to choose to wear a poppy, they have that right because of those who came before them. The money from those poppies goes to Legions across our country, into accounts that assist with veterans' care and that of their widows.

My Grandfather fought in World War II, he was wounded in action and was sent home from the war. He was so proudly Canadian and so proud of his service to his country. I gladly take time to pay my respects to him and all of his peers. Grandpa didn't talk much about the war. He certainly didn't talk about the fighting. He told stories of being in the same platoon with his brother. (He was a member of Princess Patricia's Light Infantry). He told stories of them cutting up and making fun of the platoon chaplain's monotone voice. He told stories of them setting up a Canadian baseball league in London. One story he told was of his platoon having to march through farmers' fields at night with only the moon to guide them. In the distance they could see all these forms glowing white and swaying in the distance. As they got closer they could hear these horrible moaning sounds. They all begin muttering to themselves and each other, what could it be. Could it be a ghost? They were all shaking in their boots as the crept on through the fields. Finally, they were close enough to get a good look at it and would you believe it, it was a herd of cows. They all laughed a little too hard in relief and kept moving.

If you read between the lines in that last story, you can see just how young and scared they must have been. Imagine, you're 17 or 18 years old, tired, dirty, carrying a rather large gun and creeping through the country-side with only the moon to guide you. You don't know if you'll be ambushed at any time; if you'll make it home to see your 'folks' again. I can only imagine how frightened they must have been and how brave they all were to keep on moving.

Today, on the 11th minute, of the 11th hour, of the 11th day of the 11th month, take a moment to honour these brave men and women.

In Flanders Fields

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 Fields.

- John McCrae

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