Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Don't Forget to Remember

Sacrificing two minutes of our time is the least we can do in remembrance of so many that have sacrificed so much more.
Dad, (Alex Meunier, left) and the boys of 8th Canadian Hussars (Princess Louise's)
The fact that Remembrance Day isn't  recognized as a statutory day of observance in Ontario, Manitoba and Québec is outrageous. 

Although there is a move in Ontario to make it so, headed Tory MPP Lisa MacLeod, I haven't heard "un mot" about the issue in Québec. Not surprising, I guess.

If we can take a day off to celebrate Queen Victoria with a 2-4; we can certainly take a day off to remember and observe the sacrifice of generations of Canadians who paid dearly for the country we have today.

How we feel about the politics and ideologies that precipitated these global conflicts is irrelevant.  

Dad (18yrs old)shipping out 1939
Whether we are peace-niks or raving warmongers, Remembrance Day is about saluting our veterans not the wars they fought in.

My Grandfather and Father served in both WWI and WW2 respectively.  They rarely spoke of their experiences.  If I did hear of anything of what happened overseas, it was from a family friend and usually after a few beers ( and by few, I mean cases).  There was only one time that I asked my father the proverbial: “What did you do in the war, Dad?”

The reply was quick and short: " I drove a motorcycle through the fucking mud in Sicily.

He was a bike courier in Italy with the 8th Canadian Hussars (Princess Louise's) and served in France and Holland as well.  His experience there reinforced his love for anything mechanical and hatred for anything Italian.  Apparently, this didn’t extend to Dean Martin and Perry Como, two Italian crooners who he idolized and fancied himself as being like. (Especially, Dino.)

In Flanders Fields 
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918) 
Canadian Army 

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

November the 11th was a big deal growing up. During the late fifties and middle sixties in Moncton, we all took 11/11/11 very seriously. My parent's social life revolved around the local Legion.  In school, we prepared for the day in class by making poppy cut-outs and drawing white crosses with the words "Lest We Forget" on faux parchment paper.  We stood in class and recited "In Flanders Field" then kept a two minute silence which was effectively policed by Nuns with rulers. 

Later, as I entered the Beatle generation and the whole sixties anti-war movement was ablaze, I paid little notice to this annual glum-fest.
Ironic that in that idealistic age of Aquarius life seemed so black and white. 

We confused respect for history and the lessons learned with glorification of violence and the political right wing. In my defense, I'm all growed up now.

World War I was supposed to be the war to end all wars. Well, the really big chess game better know as the Treaty of Versailles pretty well fucked any chance of that happening.  So after a brief time out for a world wide depression, the world blew up again.

The world will likely not change. As long as men are greedy for power and money, we will have the abomination of war. The world even more dangerous now. There are no rules of engagement, only rules of terror.

But the human spirit is resilient.

My Father and I were never close. I wasn't the tool carryin', car fixin' kind of son he could relate to.  Nevertheless, with age, I have come to appreciate how difficult it must have been to have served six years of his young life in a land so far away; so strange and so dangerous. 
That he would never discuss his experiences doesn't surprise me.  He was a man who was never comfortable showing emotions, unless pissed off at something or tearing up to Perry Como's rendering of Ave Maria. 

Dad lived in a pre "Oprah" time when bringing closure wasn't the magic pill to cure a troubled conscious. 

I wonder what future my Dad must have imagined as he boarded that train 1939 or who he might have been if he hadn't.

How will you remember?


  1. Ray, if you are interested I know the man kneeling in from of Uncle Alex. His name is Winston Morrell . If you require more info. let me know.
    Thanks for posting "A Ray in the Life"
    your cuz C

  2. Ray,

    This is a very touching text. And as the WWI and WWII veterans are fewer and fewer, we must also remember the men and women that are now fighting and coming back with troubled minds and broken bodies. They will need the support of the communities they fought for, whether we agree or not with the battles they are fighting.

  3. Couldn't agree with you more, Line. We take so much for granted in the west. We didn't have to hide out in bomb shelters or watch bombers approach and wonder if this will be our last thought.
    We don't have to live in countries ravaged by warlords and theocratic dictators. In our stead, we send our soldiers who sacrifice much for a safer and more humane world. They deserve our respect and support.


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