I wrote a little earlier, of a father-in-law, a second cousin, an uncle.  One a Canadian, one Polish, one from Great Britain.  I think of my mother, a five-year old when the Canadian soldiers floated up the canals of the Netherlands and brought the sweet taste of her first chocolate bar that became forever linked with liberation and freedom.  I think of Canada’s latest casualty, a classmate of my best friend’s sons and the same age as my own.  The Bible give us God’s word over and over again to remember.  Remember the deeds of the Lord your God and teach them to your children, remember the orphan, the widow, the alien in your midst, “do this in remembrance of Me”.

John 15:13   No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

It is the verse so often heard this day of days, the day we remember.  Of course Jesus was talking about his life, for all of us, a sacrifice for freedom of a different sort.

I, like many others, am the uneasy pacifist.  Violence is abhorent.  We say it is, want to believe it, but will resort to it in circumstances that seem to suggest there is no other option.  It makes me sad.  I weep for those left, for families, for friends, for children who do not survive their parents, for brides and grooms whose love is lost, for babes in arms who will never know.

I weep every time I watching the photo montage on YouTube of the Highway of Heros.

The photo of the fellow standing on the cement divider is the nemesis of my tears.  That someone would stop on the freeway and show respect in this manner leaves me choking back sobs. I am proud of Canadians, that they would line bridges and highways and sidewalks to acknowledge the call to duty and ultimate price soldiers pay for us.

It is such a waste, such a bloody, ugly, wrenching loss of possibility, that grants us the opportunities and liberties we enjoy so much, that we too often act are our right, that the world owes us.  It is a horrible way to solve differences of opinion, to get what we want, of greed, of acquisition, of political or religious ideology.  Our hope is for peace.  Jesus told us the peacemakers would be blessed, not the peace wishers, or the peace hopers, or the peace brokers, or the peace prayers.  The peacemakers.

Remembrance Day – Lest we Forget

One visit that will remain with me always was to the Canadian War Cemetery in Groesbeek, Netherlands.  We went looking for the resting place of a neighbour, unsuccessfully.  The people of the Netherlands keep the cemeteries immaculate.  The grave stones are lined up in precisely straight lines, on the vertical, horizontal, diagonal in every direction you look.  The engraved ages that characterize the names of the men record there breaks the heart, thirty — twenty-two — eighteen — fifteen.  Cannon fodder, priceless sacrifices.  The first time it really struck me what a waste it all was, was my first year in highschool, at a Remembrance Day assembly and they began to read the names of students that had gone to serve in the Great War and then WWII.  Kids my age.  And later, kids my sons’ age.

Remembrance Day is a difficult day to get through.  My mother was born in the Netherlands the year the war began.  My grandmother will share memories of the occupation, my grandfather shared little.  He was involved in the underground in some way, a friend of his was shot in the back while riding his bike as he tried to avoid a German roadblock.

My husband’s father, a Polish veteran that served under British command at the Battle of Monte Cassino, passed away on Nov. 5th a few years back.  It is a difficult day to get through.

My husband’s mother was a refugee in Siberia, Russian troops came into the towns of Poland in the middle of the night, loaded the residents onto cattle cars and sent them east.  She has a lingering distrust of the government, and ordered me never to post scans I made of my father-in-laws papers and documents on the internet.  If you knew the name, you would find his death notice at the on-line publication of the Legion’s magazine.

They seem so young, idealism and the quest for glory and honour shining in their eyes, eagerness to go and fight.  Looks that were left overseas, dissolving with the growing realization of what war actually involved.