Tag Archives: World War II

Remembrance Day

30 Days of Gratitude- Day 11

30 Days of Gratitude- Day 11 (Photo credit: aussiegall)

I first published this post on November 11, 2013, a second time in 2015 and again today. As a tribute to my family’s veterans and all those many, many others, I think it holds as true this year as did when I first published it nine years ago. 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.


In Remembrance of D-Day

Canadian military during World War II
Canadian military during World War II (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The 69th anniversary of D-Day was on June 6th, last Thursday. Like so many, many others, my dad was of those involved.  He wound up going all the way to Hamburg, Germany before “his war” was over and he was permanently sent back to England to my anxious mother, herself a member of the British army.

World War II and my parents’ participation in it shaped their lives.

How could it not?

It has shaped ours, too; it’s just that we don’t register it much or perhaps give it as much prominence as it should probably have.

We lap up the sacrifice of our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents without understanding where it came from or even being aware that that’s what we are doing.

As my dad became older he often reminisced about his and my mother’s lives during the war. He talked about the time that they raced into an Underground station in London seconds ahead of a bomb that tumbled down the steps behind them, following them.

They made it to relative safety before the bomb exploded; others did not.

My dad was also evacuated from Dunkirk. Please see Jenny Pellett’s wonderful piece called Wartime Memories. Since reading her post I have wondered whether my dad ever went to her grandparents’ hotel.

The Dunkirk evacuation and the Normandy landings were, however, not something that my dad discussed until he was in his seventies. For him, outrunning a bomb was a story he could tell, but Normandy and Dunkirk? And later on, Bergen-Belsen concentration camp? The scope was too big; its effects were too broad. Compared to that, his personal experiences of it were tiny.

How do you get your mind around it?

The World War II veterans did not talk much about what they had endured. They just wanted to get back to their lives and enjoy the peace. But I also think that they may have had difficulty trying to communicate how massive this all was. The numbers of people, the equipment, the exhaustion, the death, the destruction, the genocidal madness.  For the sake of one’s sanity, it moves from the personal.

No one person could tell it. Better to go home and try to forget.

They had earned the right to either talk about it or not, remember or not.

We children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren don’t have that choice, however. We have an obligation to remember.

We owe them a debt of gratitude that can only be re-paid by protecting and respecting what they won for us –  our very selves, our freedom, our many luxuries.

My dad is long gone now, as are most of the WW II veterans, but we can think about what they did for us.