What were you doing Nov 11?
I joined the well-attended Remembrance day ceremony in my home town of Parrsboro. This commemoration is well attended by the community. It starts with a parade led by all four of our Mounties dressed smart in their red serge dress uniforms. A minivan with a portable stereo roped precariously onto to the roof leads the way with the beat of marching music. This is a reasonable hand drawn facsimile replacing the once award winning Parrsboro Citizens Band whose members are either to old or graduated from school and moved on.
Thank goodness it was a bright warm sunny day. For some reason Nov 11 has typically been cold and clammy. Every name carved in stone was read and the commentator read the names of the departed along with names of descendants who were to lay each wreath. Each wreath layer was escorted by two smartly dressed young cadets as they walked a corridor of decorated legion members holding flags on staffs as they. I hope they felt honoured.
As the wreath laying process reached the 1 hour mark a few dogs barked and handfuls of groups in the crowd started to chat among themselves. I caught myself being a bit restless as my back started to get sore and I shifted weight from one foot to the other. I was getting a bit impatient.
When the ceremony leader Keith spoke, he reminded us that the sacrifice of those long gone was not just some sentimental gratitude. He shared a fact that I wasn’t aware of. There are 6000 cenotaphs across Canada and he reminded us that some of them are laying wreaths for our modern memories lest we forget that, to date, ninety seven men and women of our armed services gave the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan. My aching back paled in comparison to the heart ache that some Canadian families must be feeling today.
We are a community of memory and hope. Perhaps you caught the, “For Better or For Worse” comic strip in the Sunday paper. The little kid is standing at a poppy and wreath ceremony and asks her mom, “When will it be over?” Her mother replies, “In about an hour.” The young girl clarified, “No, I meant when will war be over?”
Seems like we have had war forever. In my family it goes back to 1916 when my great grandfather, Major James Tupper, wrote a letter to his 12 year old son, my grandfather, whom, as fate would unfold, they would never meet again because he died at the Battle for the Somme in the “war to end all wars,” WW1
For those in past and present generations who fight for freedom and work for peace in our time, I thank you. Lest we forget those who gave and continue to give the ultimate sacrifice in fulfillment of these hopes for humanity.