Sunday, November 11, 2012

Lest We Forget

Today's post is a little different than what most of you are used to; we will return to our normal family escapades in a few days, rest assured.  However, today is November 11th or Remembrance Day here in Canada.  Amongst the usual posts of respect and reverence for our military in my news feed early this morning, I found this piece.  It is written by an old friend...  Our paths diverged when we were much younger;  I went on to be a nurse and serve my community,  he went on to serve his country.

We have a proud military history here in Canada.  We do not have the largest standing army, the most impressive navy or the latest jets in our air force.  However, we are well respected Peacekeepers.  My children are descended from distinguished veterans from both sides;  although neither Sean nor I chose this path for ourselves, we have a deep respect for those that do.

This day means many things to many people.  Some would rather that it never happened at all;  that is their right.  However, to those who have served, know those that have served or have family currently serving, this day is one of reflection.  It is not to "glorify" war, rather to recognize those that have gone before.

Today Canadians (and Americans observing Veteran's Day) will hear many stories of years gone past.  Instead, I will share a story that is ongoing.  As our first guest post on Down Wit Dat, on this November 11th, I give you "Jeff's" story.  Originally posted humbly as a status update to friends, I have gotten his permission to share his reflections here.

"As I sit here contemplating Remembrance Day, I have several thought I wish to share.

I am a former soldier who served my country for 14 years, and for the past 11 years, I have served and protected the citizens of Toronto. I never fired my weapon at an enemy, and I don’t consider myself a veteran.

As a young soldier I remember my first Remembrance Day parade, I recall the very old men who struggled to stand for “O Canada”, many in wheel chairs, with old faded medals pinned on their chests. These men were truly the last of the old breed, they were the last First World War vets, by then into their 90’s. I was struck by the look of sorrow on their faces during “Last Post” as they recalled those who never came home. Those men carried with them the horrors of war all of their lives and they never forgot.

More recently, in my new life, when news of a Canadian soldier being killed would come on the TV, I like all former soldiers, would covertly listen in. Our thoughts would go to friends that were overseas, silently hoping they were ok. I wondered if I would recognize the names I heard. Many times I didn’t recognize the names, sometimes I did. I like many former soldiers struggle with the decision I made to leave the army and whether I left the hard work for others to do.

In my new life I was often required to assist in the Repatriation of the fallen soldiers. I would take up a traffic point and when the motorcade passed me I would come to attention and salute. I promised myself on that first Repatriation, that I would remember the name of each man (and eventually women) that passed me. But, as the years went by and the number of times that I stood and saluted a fallen soldier went past 30, maybe even 40 times, I lost track. Both of the number of time I stood there and the names of the men and women that I was there to honour.

The names and faces of these men and women faded from my memory and the novelty of a Repatriation duty became a well practiced routine. I do however, recall one day that will be with me for the rest of my life.

It was a sunny fall afternoon and I was at my usual intersection. As I had maybe 25 times before, I stopped all the traffic. I turned as the motorcade approached; I came to attention and saluted the hearse. As the hearse made the turn, it slowed. The limo that carried the family stopped momentarily in front of me. The window was open and a boy perhaps 3 or 4, the young son of the fallen soldier solemnly returned my salute. I was struck with the sacrifice that that young boy had made for his country, and by the fact that he didn’t even know it yet.

At 11am today where ever you are, please pause and reflect on the sacrifices made by our soldiers, sailors and aircrews. And, also by the sacrifices made by the parents, widows, and children of those who will never come home again.

Lest we forget"

I have little more to offer here other than to say thank you, to those who have served or are serving.  Thank you still to the families of those who did not make it home.  Lest we forget their sacrifice.  Lest we forget the horror, lest we forget peace.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.
-Laurence Binyon, "For the Fallen"

Photo courtesy of York University

No comments :

Post a Comment

Thank you for your comment.

Although discussion is encouraged, disrespectful or hurtful dialogue will be removed.

Spam will be fried up with a side of tomatoes.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...