Millions of words will be written in honor of Remembrance Day, but I’m guessing that these three won’t be among them.
We devote a single minute – some of us, at least – of a single day to honor the Fallen Soldier, but the next day the Fallen becomes the Forgotten once more.
You may see poppies on display for a week prior to November 11, but they disappear immediately, as does the sentiment they are meant to inspire.
I will, on occasion, spend a good portion of my day lamenting my lot in life. But I owe my very existence to the soldiers who overthrew the Third Reich and created a world where a Polish resistance fighter could form a union with a German nurse. The blood of soldiers allowed them to emigrate to Canada and raise a family that included a smart-ass grandson who has tried to live up to the example they set out for him.
A few years ago, my daughter told us of a veteran that had been invited to her school on November 11; he had tears in his eyes as he attempted to convey the true spirit of the day. I’m sure he considered it his solemn honor to keep the memory of his brothers-in-arms alive by educating the children of the future they had died to protect. I can’t speak for other schools, but a proud and honorable tradition ended that year.
This day isn’t just about honoring the Fallen Soldier; it’s about listening to the messages of those who survived the physical trauma but are still plagued by the psychological scars. Our society treats those who came before as less than human at times, and our treatment of veterans – of all ages – is equally disgraceful.
They’ve seen the worst humanity has to offer and they leave more than blood behind; they lose a little piece of themselves. When the guns stop firing all they ask is to return home, but how is that possible when you’ve been to Hell and back?
And so we set aside a day to honor them. But do we really understand them?
- Most of us have never had to leave behind everything we know to travel to a foreign land and engage in a battle we don’t fully understand.
- How many of us can say we’ve been so scared we couldn’t move, but we had no choice but to charge ahead into the unknown?
- I’ve never had to stand on a foreign battlefield and watch helplessly as my brothers-in-arms die all around me.
Then again, that’s the whole point, isn’t it?
Millions of soldiers have fought and died to give all of us a chance to live our lives in peace. Ask yourself this question: “What am I willing to give them in return?”
ONE FINAL NOTE:
I recently told you about my wife’s Aunt Pat and her struggle with cancer. Sadly, Pat left us at 3 am on Remembrance Day. She will be greatly missed.
- Friday, November 11, 2011 Veterans Day! (thejory.wordpress.com)
- A soldier’s request for Remembrance Day: Think not of the fallen, but of their families (homecomingvets.wordpress.com)