I first published this post on November 11, 2013 and then again in 2015. As a tribute to my family’s veterans and all those many, many others, here it is again. Thank you for your service. We will remember.
In Canada, today is Remembrance Day. Today, we remember those who have given their lives to preserve the greater good, those who gave us what we have today.
Both my parents were veterans of World War II. My dad escaped from Dunkirk and later, in 1944, helped to liberate France and the Netherlands. He went all the way to Hamburg, Germany, before being sent back to England and to my mother.
My mother served in the British army as a radar operator during the London blitz. Her father, a World War I veteran, was a “spotter” who alerted higher command that enemy planes were coming across the channel.
One day, a fighter saw him and killed him.
Three of her brothers served in the army, one of whom was captured. He spent four years in a prisoner of war camp and was finally liberated in 1945. According to my mother, he was completely changed and suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder for the rest of his life.
Another brother died during his service to the navy, and a third in France. A sister-in-law died in a bombing raid.
My parents worked hard while escaping attacks and facing every kind of rationing imaginable, to say nothing of the constant fear of death. This left them with an enduring determination that their kids would never face the same fears, privation, or responsibility. There had been no guarantees that they would be successful with the task they were given.
But they were successful. And we enjoy the benefits of that success today, a success written in blood.
In Canada, the following excerpt from For the Fallen is recited at Remembrance Day services around the country. Here, this recitation is known as The Act of Remembrance.
For the Fallen ~ Laurence Binyon
They shall not grow old, as we who 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.