Time to remember those who lost their lives for us
December 1, 2002
I am writing this column on Nov. 11, Remembrance Day. At 2:30 this afternoon my father, a retired Air Force chaplain will say a few words about what this day means to him. He will be speaking at the s...
I am writing this column on Nov. 11, Remembrance Day. At 2:30 this afternoon my father, a retired Air Force chaplain will say a few words about what this day means to him.
He will be speaking at the seniors’ home where he and my mother live. Over the years dad has led many Remembrance Day services, from the European cemetaries of our veterans to the war memorial in Ottawa, from the cenataph in his hometown of Leask Saskatchewan to today’s ceremony in a Toronto seniors’ home.
I have attended many of these occasions and I have always been impressed how similiar yet how different dad makes each one feel.
My memories of this day are of veterans wearing their berets and Legion jackets each with a row of medals.
From my days as a young boy I have witnessed these proud men and women march up to the memorial – they and other dignitaries would lay the many wreathes,we all were held spellbound by my dad, and then the bugler would play the Last Post. I have always been moved by the pagentry of the service and often wondered what moments must each veteran be revisiting at this time.
This year I will not be attending dad’s service yet I will still be there in spirit. I can close my eyes and quickly imagine the layout and pagentry. I have no problem seeing dad in his uniform, his medals shining,his strong clear voice talking of men of a bygone era and the debts we owe them.
I can almost see the small tears rolling down his cheek as he finishes. What I won’t hear are the different experiences and anecdotes my father will bring to this particular service.
Last night my father joined us for what is becoming an all-too-rare family Sunday dinner. It’s not that often we can round up our older and busy children. We were lucky yesterday we got two out of three plus their partners.
As could be expected the volume of this gathering was getting pretty high, family sharing the events of their days and their jobs – I wasn’t sure my 88 year old dad could compete. I was wrong.
At some point dad was asked about what was on his mind as today approached. As he spoke the background din disappeared and we all listened. He spoke of the trenches of the first World War and the uncles he lost.
He spoke of his own experiences in the second World War and the friends lost.
He spoke of being one of the first allied officers into the co