Sunday 10 November 2013

I Remember.

I remember those cold November mornings as our boy scout troop would line up in uniform in the parking lot of the Transcona Legion to pay our respects to the soldiers as they marched by. Some of them were very old, gingerly but proudly marching along Regent Avenue in their crisp navy blue uniforms as the drums and bagpipes played in step. The moment of silence was always jarring as I would watch the wisps of my breath twirl in the cold air. These memories came back to me tonight at the strangest of times as I was reminded that we now live in a very different time.

The Jets game is on the TV beside me, and during intermission they just finished interviewing a World War II veteran who is a mainstay fan of all our city's major teams. Seeing this elderly man, hearing his stories of days of old, and then seeing his demeanour change as the war was mentioned brought me back to the Remembrance Day parades of my youth, but with a stunning realization. The elderly men I remember so gingerly but proudly marching along as a child were veterans of World War I, the Great War. My great grandfather who passed away when I was 5 had been one of them. At that time, the veterans of World War II were the stronger looking uniformed men in their late 50s and 60s who marched alongside these regal elderly soldiers. 

Almost 30 years has passed since those days and the veterans of the Great War are long passed. The last Canadian veteran of WWI died at 109 years old almost 4 years ago now. The WWII veterans remaining are the elderly ones now, but the horror of war has continued. I have friends who have experienced that horror, wearing the Canadian flag into battle in Afghanistan and experiencing things I cannot begin to imagine. 

I hate war. I hate the thought of it and I hate the consequences of it. Where I struggle is with the necessity of it. Questions abound in my mind like what if the world had not resisted Hiltler's attempted extermination of the Jewish race? What if we had let Taliban continue their reign of terror unabated in Afghanistan? I hate war, and I have many questions, but one thing is clear. Those who made the ultimate sacrifice and those who fought alongside them have my respect and they have my gratitude. Tomorrow morning I will pause, and I will remember. 

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