Saturday, November 12, 2005

Lest We Forget

Remembrance Day has always been a very emotional time for me. My grandfather fought in World War II and, especially after having read some entries from his journal, the horror, the end of innocence for so many and the torture of those who were at home, waiting for their loved ones really hit home. So many of those who went over came back changed. You can't shoot someone dead and expect not to change, whether you buy into the us-versus-them mentality or not. Alcoholism, post-traumatic stress disorder, physical disfigurement. These are things that real people took home with them as a price for stopping a madman. I, for one, am thankful that they paid that price. It's hard to know what we would not have, never having to do without it, but the thought of not being able to live my life as I choose scares me.

As part of Beavers, Nicholas and I walked to the Butterdome at the University of Alberta, yesterday, and marched around the track to the applause of the multitudes of onlookers. I felt like a bit of a dork because I didn't yet have my Beaver Leader uniform, but everyone seemed to take that in stride. What really got to me was how Nicholas behaved. Not in a bad way. A lot of the kids, whether they were Cubs, Beavers, Scouts or even the Cadets that were seated in front of us, were jumping up out of their seats, talking and laughing, even during the two-minute silence that happened at 11:00. Nicholas sat quietly in his seat when we were sitting, he stood quietly when we were standing, he took his hat off when he should and he was patient, interested and well-behaved. Last night, I told him how proud I was of him, and I explained why Remembrance Day was what it was.

He laughed a little bit when I told him about crazy Adolph Hitler, until I explained that he wasn't like a TV bad guy, that he was hurting and killing people and that a bunch of people went over the sea to stop him. When he understood what I was saying, and he understood why it was important to remember and honour the people who fought in the war, I was proud of him. I was proud of myself, too, because I could make him understand why it was important to me.

When they had the veterans in the wheelchairs, being pushed by current members of the Armed Forces, it felt like I'd been kicked in the stomach. To think of what they had been through, the life-changing events that brought them to where they are now, I imagine it must have been a real honour for the younger men and women to escort them around the track.

I don't usually make any grand claims to patriotism. I realise that we're a country, and we make mistakes. We're not better or worse than anybody else, but when we were called upon to help out, we went, we sacrificed, and we succeeded.

For that, I am thankful.


KimProbable said...

I have two things to say on the topic of the Remembrance Day celebration this year.

#1: Lillian was a champ and slept through the entire thing.

#2: Why didn't I know about all those men in uniform back in my single days??!

Dylan said...

Why doesn't Liam return my phone calls? I wanted to see the baby!

Liam J. said...

I didn't even know you'd called.

Baron Von Cliff said...

Lest you forget...Dylan called. Apparently.

I actually feel somewhat guilty making such a stupid comment after Liam's eloquence.

Liam J. said...

Eloquence? Wow.

Sean Woods said...

I can verify that Dylan called Liam a few times, as I was present.
Unless he didn't really dial, and simply talked into the phone...

Let's hear it for posting comments that have nothing to do with respecting veterans!

Liam J. said...

Ha ha. You made it about respecting veterans in your last few lines. HA!

Dylan said...

I would respect veterans more if they weren't all so angry all the time.

By the way: Check your messages.

Baron Von Cliff said...

I disagree. We need some grumpy curmudgeons. Otherwise, all elders may as well by boppin' around in those damn Shriner-car-glorified-Go-Kart things.

And that's just SAD.

Shaun said...

I must say I am impressed at how well Nicolas behaved! You're becoming a great dad!
My Grandfather also fought in the war, he is no long with us as he passed away when I was around 7 or earlier.

Dylan said...

F** all y'all.

Not only do I put together (singlehandedly) a 28-page section in the Lethbridge Herald with the photos and bios of over 500-plus veterans, I showed up at the Legion, made a small speech and bought a round.
Didn't end up paying because the Legion covered it. Still, the thought counts.
So, put your time and effort where your mouths are and actually DO something for them.

Baron Von Cliff said...

Wow...keep up those 'soul gaining' expenditures, Big D, and you'll soon qualify as a veteran yourself! Ya' groupie!

Man, I'm a bucket o' fun when I'm tired and feel like crap.

Anonymous said...


Don't you dare talk about "check your messages".

You suck.


by the way: Liam that was a great post.

Sean Woods said...

I demand more blog uppity-dates.

Liam J. said...

I hear and obey.

uhfjusnm: until houston feels justification under someone-else, never mind