Thursday, November 10, 2011

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.
Dad, Alex Meunier on upper left ,1939

(The following is a repost from November, 2010)

The fact that Remembrance Day isn't  recognized as a statutory day of observance in Ontario, Manitoba and Québec is outrageous. 

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.  

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.  

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. 

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

Later, as I entered the Beatles generation, the whole sixties anti-war movement was in full form. We were anti-war, anti-authority, anti-establishment. We perversely viewed veterans as the honour guard for the military machine. What we didn't see was that the universal soldier was as much victim as victor. Ironic then, that at the dawn of the enlightened age of Aquarius, life was so black and white; so good guys and bad guys. 

World War I was supposed to be the war to end all wars. Greed and revenge ensured that wasn't to happen. After a brief time-out for a global 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. 

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

How will you remember?


  1. Thank you - that is all I can say.


  2. "Sacrificing two minutes of our time is the least we can do in remembrance of so many that have sacrificed so much." You are so right! Thanks.


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