It’s that time of year of remembering, thanking, and spending time with those who are near and dear to us. It has also been time to remember those that have fought in wars and conflicts past and present.
This year Remembrance Day fell not just on the 11th day of the 11th month, but of the 11th year. So for one minute it would be 11.11 on the 11/11/11. It was not just this reason that I felt the need to introduce my boys to ways to remember, but also because of inward conversations I have with myself. ‘Are they old enough?’, ‘Will they make a scene?’ ‘How will those around react if my guys do not act appropriately?’. I then realised that these are my issues not theirs and how on earth can I expect them to cope and react well if I don’t introduce them to occasions such as these.
My eldest son is in Kindergarten and he had been making poppies at school and I had bought him a Scholastic book on ‘A poppy is to Remember’ so I felt he had a reasonable understanding for a 5 year old. My youngest at 3, well he is his own boss, strong willed, feisty and a bit of an imp! However, he has a good heart and his intentions are always well intended even if a bit misguided!
So for the first time I took my two boys to our local cenotaph to witness the remembering of soldiers who fought for their country. We watched the parade of soldiers and Royal Canadian Mounted Police service march by. We saw older generations with medals and teary eyes walk proud. We watched as the crowd grew to hundreds, young, old, babies, children, Scouts, Beavers and Brownies. Cadet Corps. All there to stop, quiet, to remember. A grandfather, son, brother, husband, uncle, aunt, sister or wife or mother or may be just the unknown face of a brave, courageous military personal who, take it upon themselves to keep us, safe. To allow us, to live free of condemnation and oppression.
For as much as the world would be a better place without fear, fighting, wars, conflicts, religious oppression it is also the way of the world for someone to always think things should be done another way, a better way, ‘their way’. For this reason and the history of time tells us, there will always be the need for those who are willing to put their lives in the line of fire. I feel I lack the eloquence to actually write down exactly how grateful I am to those who are but names. But I am – grateful that is. I feel it is my duty from a non -military family to teach my sons this. Respect those that do regardless of colour, religion, or social background.
Both boys wore their poppies at school all week, both laid poppies at the memorial after the service. Both of which I am very proud. They are the future generation.
So as you gather to celebrate this Holiday season, or sit for a family meal, big or small, remember the future generation too!
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.
by John McCrae, May 1915