Remembering The Fallen

Remembrance Day 2007


My parent's generation were the veterans of World War II.  I always think of all the "old guys" who came back from that one at this time of year.  They were the dads and uncles of all the various ethnic groups in Canada at the time who I grew up around.  They were role models for me when I grew up.  They were as a lot the gentlest and most non-violent group of men I ever knew in my life.  Perhaps having seen enough of humans butchering each other they never seemed to rise to violence in all the decades I knew some of them.  Yet they were not weak men.  They had a quiet inner strength which I like to think of as the true spirit of the warrior.  Many had troubled nights, health problems or were physically challenged after the war.  A lot of them drank heavily, but, still remained gentle souls.  They all survived the war somehow and again, I like to think it was their inner humanity, their true warrior within, that granted them this.  A young boy growing up around such men can spend a lifetime trying to live up to their measure and wondering for all of that lifetime if he ever could or did.

I also now in 2007, think of all the troops in combat in Afghanistan.  And again, its every ethnic flavour of Canadian in combat.  Everyone's siblings and cousins standing shoulder to shoulder, watching each other's back.  World War II was the last "good one" where the reasons to going to war were just and right.  Now its seems modern war is a little more ambiguous.  But the hearts of the warriors are the same as ever.  Whatever you think about the politics or the reasons for the modern war, you have to understand and respect the young people who have heard the call to duty in this generation.  They're not conscripted troops.  They signed up!   They go to protect the tribe, to liberate the weak and bring peace to the world with some kind of faith we might not understand.  That is what they believe no matter what we do!  It has to be respected and honored.

We have also been taught here at the start of 21st Century remembrance for the civilian fallen, the police, firefighters and emergency personnel who also live and work in the same spirit as those who fall in war.  We remember those at home who also make a choice to risk the ultimate sacrifice for all of us.  Here in Canada, in our week of Remembrance, we are once again reminded of this by the slaying of a young R.C.M.P. officer in the line of duty.  We are reminded how many of these civilian warriors are lost.

My generation got very very very lucky in our lives.  Too young for the Nam.  Too old for the Gulf.  We did know peace for nearly one generation thanks to the countless fallen of remembrance.  The cities and towns were the safest in all the world in all its history.  There were a few days in the 20th Century where no war was being fought anywhere on the planet.  The lucky old MoFo ain't likely long for this life.  War or peace your day comes.  One day I would hope to see before the end of my days would be just one more day of peace in the 21st Century.  With a sane civilized society without violence on that day so when our young people come home, they don't have to spend that day in the same kind of shit they just left!  I hope to see a day when they too will know at least one day like all the days their kind has blessed me with.  So now I have begun to think of Remembrance Day not only as a day of sorrow, but a day of hope.  A day to keep the faith of those of remembrance one day their sacrifice will bear fruit.  A day to believe what they believed and sacrificed for is possible and even inevitable!  It should be a day we all think to try in the coming year to hold even just a fraction of their measure and faith within ourselves!

MoFoPoHo (see below  There's poppies in Afghanistan too. Sigh!)

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

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.

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