November 11th. As a child I remember Remembrance Day as the day I wore a poppy, sat through a somber school assembly, read poems and stood quietly while a song played on the loud speaker. While I vaguely grasped the significance of the day, my understanding and personal connection wouldn’t occur until much later in life. As a Canadian who has never been touched by war, how could I have the slightest idea what war and sacrifice truly are? As a child I certainly had no idea, and even now I know my understanding is limited. Through family research though, I have atleast come to appreciate and have a much deeper connection with November 11th.
The difference between that child and who I am now, is that while I haven’t personally lived through war, I do have family who did, and I now know parts of their stories. My connection is through them. When I stand silently for a minute each November 11th, I think of the brave Publow boys who died in France during WW1. I think of my grandfather who taught young men to fly planes here in Canada, and his brothers who fought overseas during WW2. I think of a particular relative who ended up in Stalag Luft 3 POW camp for a large portion of the war and managed to survive. My heart goes out to all these men. I also think of my grandparents who were in Holland during WW2 and lived through such unimaginable conditions. November 11th for me is not only for the veterans but also the civilians who have experienced war.
A minute is barely enough time for me to say thank you. A minute is barely enough time to reflect on what they must have been feeling. A minute is barely enough time to honour their memory. A minute is all that is asked of us all and yet to many, they neglect to give even this tiny moment of time.
I beg all of you reading, to take that minute tomorrow and set it aside for all those that have served. I ask you to find your own connection to the veterans and give your heartfelt thanks. It is the least we can do.
Lest we forget.
One thought on “My Remembrance. ”
My father wasn’t a war hero, well, at least not in that sense. He was born in 1917, during The Great War (which, for some reason, wasn’t at that time known as World War One). At 14, he was down a coal mine where he remained all his working life as a face worker; a brutal, unhealthy and highly dangerous position given that, at the time, hewing coal was a manual process. During World War Two (or rather, TGW 0.2) my father wasn’t allowed to enlist, as his was by a government decree, ‘restricted occupation’ and all hands were needed underground for the war effort, no matter how calloused or mutilated. As soon as peace broke out however, he elected for National Service, joining the RAF for 4 years. I like to think that he chose that branch of the military to get as high enough up and as physically far away from the pits of the earth as was then possible. He traveled all over the place, India and Canada, among others. He brought back a crocodile-skin wallet and speedometer clocks from a Spitfire. But when he came back, it was down to earth. And back down underneath it. He died at 50, of lung disease. I’ve outlived him by 4 years now, though he still looms taller than me. Our forebears seem bigger, braver and more courageous than we are, perhaps so, given how they were tested and not found wanting, it’s an appreciation that transcends the limiting scope of military service.
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