Cherish This Day, For It Was Paid For In Blood.

Remembrance Day inspires several words to spring to the forefront of the conscious mind.

Courage.

Sacrifice.

Heroism.

But to me, one word reigns supreme.

Shame.

The Second World War set in motion a series of events that gave birth to even more moments, culminating in my birth. My grandmother, God rest her soul, found herself on the losing side when the war ended and so she went from living on a farm to living behind barbed wire. To her, the Germans were her people, her family. To the rest of the world they were monsters hell-bent on exterminating an entire race of people while enslaving the rest.

Fortunately, a Polish national-turned-United-Nations-security-officer took notice of her and from this coupling that defied reason came a journey to a foreign land. Soon, they had a little girl who grew to adulthood and became a mother in her own right.

And that, in a nutshell, folks, is the Secret Origin of The Hook.

I grew up witnessing what happens to a human being after they walk through the fire of war. When your soul is exposed to such an inferno the scars never truly heal. You feel the heat on your face all the days of your life.

My grandmother carried literal scars of those dark days; she had been a nurse and on one particularly dark day a soldier was brought in that had been exposed to acid; he began to convulse, exposing her bare legs to a chemical compound that left burns that never healed. Her wounds began to rupture as her skin surrendered to the ravages of time, but her positive attitude never faltered. My grandmother never surrendered to the demons of the past though if you looked hard enough, you could see every single terror she witnessed and lived through in the lines of her face and her beautiful eyes.

Paradoxically, my grandfather’s scars were internal, the result of losing his youth, his family and his circle of friends to the relentless beast known as combat. His trauma dictated his actions following the war and forced him down many a dark path.

Despite their torment my grandparents treated me like a prince. I grew up wanting for nothing, as they say. And this privilege causes me to feel ashamed when I reflect upon the horrors of war during this solemn day.

I think of this age we live in, with its many luxuries and creature comforts and I wonder what our ancestors would make of it.

This world, the one we take for granted to ridiculous extreme, was paid for in the blood of the innocent.

Young men, many of them blissfully ignorant in the ways of the world, were called upon to defend liberty. They did so on foreign soil, brandishing man-made weapons of destruction. Imagine, if you can, leaving behind everything you know to board ships and planes bound for the other side of the world. Now imagine being told that an entire race of people was your enemy. Finally, try to picture yourself on a battlefield, your face crimson with the blood of combatants on both sides, rushing at one of these individuals, someone your own age, and being forced to end their existence. You stand over their lifeless form knowing you and you alone are responsible for ending the life of someone you could call friend under different circumstances.

How does someone come back from that?

My grandfather never did.

I do my share of bitching and moaning about the sad state of my reality but the truth is this: I exist because two people fought their way through seven levels of hell to see their shared dream of a life free of killing and destruction become a reality.

Most of us spend our days dreaming of a better life. We follow the antics of privileged, arrogant celebrities like Justin Bieber, Kanye West, the Kardashian clan, without acknowledging the truth of their existence. I can only imagine what the heroes of yesterday would make of Bieber’s crusade through the free world.

On this day we should all feel a measure of shame for taking this world for granted. More importantly, we should channel that shame into the task of continuing the work our fallen brethren began, the construction of a better world.

My daughter feels a Moment of Silence is far from adequate to cover the debt we owe soldiers in every land. Initially I disagreed with her until I put on my uniform to serve the world in my own, far-from-heroic-fashion this morning. Then it hit me: Those brave souls put their lives on hold to push back the misguided forces of a depraved madman.

NEVER FORGET.

About The Hook

Husband. Father. Bellman. Author of The Bellman Chronicles. Reader of comic books and observer and chronicler of the human condition. And to my wife's eternal dismay, a mere mortal and non-vampire. I'm often told I look like your uncle, cousin, etc. If I wore a hat, I'd hang it on a hat rack in my home in Niagara Falls, Canada. You can call me The Hook, everyone else does.
This entry was posted in Hotel Life and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

75 Responses to Cherish This Day, For It Was Paid For In Blood.

  1. Katie says:

    Well put, Hook. Days like today put everything into perspective.

    • The Hook says:

      They certainly do, Katie.
      Tomorrow we can go back to entertaining the masses with our particular brand of madness, but today is different – on every level.
      Thanks for stopping by.

  2. List of X says:

    Unfortunately, many of those brave souls put their lives on the line only for the whims of those in power. In every war, there is at least one side that is an aggressor (that begins a conflict, whatever their justification may be) and sends its young men to their death without a cause. Every time we remember the veterans, we have to remember those who made them into veterans.

  3. Moving post, Hook.
    My dad was a medic in Battle of the Bulge and as things were sorted out at the end of the battles in Germany. Being from a rural area he felt some kinship with the ordinary people caught between politics – they didn’t ask for the war either. The soldiers in their unit shared what they could of food and medicine in trade for washed clothes. As this unit was also one of the first into a concentration camp – and came upon trains with people jammed into cattle cars like lumber, they asked locals “how could this happen?” The reply was always a confused “We didn’t know they would do this. It seemed good at the beginning”. My dad and uncles rarely talked about the brutal war – they were all so young and they did suffer. We had Jewish Holocaust survivors move onto our street – and were always cautioned to treat them with respect. They too never talked about the tattoos or their survival.
    My father-in-law was a doc in the Pacific landings. Today would be also his birthday.
    An important day and all I can see are images of proud WW II men who left everything to face more horrors than could be imagined to fight for people they didn’t even know – and are now old and in wheel chairs…and they were only trying to see the WW II War Memorial – their memorial- paid by contributions and donations in Washington, DC – and there were barricades and chains. That image will remain with me forever.
    SHAME.
    You nailed this one, Hook.

  4. May we never forget

    • The Hook says:

      Unfortunately we seem to be moving away from honoring those fallen soldiers.
      Hopefully we can start moving back in the right direction.

  5. MissTiffany says:

    Well said, Hook, and thank you for sharing. This really helps put into perspective what day is truly honoring and remembering.

  6. MissFourEyes says:

    Wow, partner. You put it all so well.

  7. Thank you for your brilliant insight to the other side my friend.

    • The Hook says:

      I had great difficulty achieving clarity on this subject but I’m pleased with the end result.
      Thanks for the validation, my friend.

  8. What a powerful piece. I want to thank you Hook. Agree that too many people forget. Too soon the veterans and survivors of WWII will be gone as well. It so pains me to realize that most people do not even realize that this memorization was originally known as Armistice Day and celebrated the end of WWI. It was still called that when I was a child.
    Think I like it much better.

    Thank you again for making history come alive by telling the story of you own family.
    xo

    • The Hook says:

      Sharing our family history is a great way to bring people together, I think.
      Everyone has a powerful tale or two in their family chest, even if they don’t realize it.
      Thank you for visiting and honoring my family, Rachael.

  9. susielindau says:

    And think of all the young men who sign up now so they can get a college education. I don’t think they know what they are in for.

  10. Brother Jon says:

    Well done. I believe that there is no standing still, we are either progressing or regressing, in many different ways. Thank you for allowing us to progress from reading this.

  11. neonspndx says:

    This is such a great post! I love stories of where our grand-parents came from. I don’t stop to think about what my grandparents and great grandparents went through so that I might be here today. I was just telling someone last week about how my relatives escaped being killed by the Germans (Great great uncle worked on a film studio and they were allowed to relocate for a filming and bring relatives). Today’s world is definitely different. I should take it for granted less. Thanks for writing this. Great start to my day.

  12. dentaleggs says:

    Beautifully written. Thank you.

  13. I have two new Heroes.

    This is one of the best things I have ever read.

    Outstanding!

  14. mairedubhtx says:

    Beautifully said. Thank you.

  15. Pingback: Cherish This Day, For It Was Paid For In Blood.

  16. RageMichelle says:

    This is awesome..thank you so much for sharing.

  17. Shelburbia says:

    Just this morning Someone threw the phrase “you want for nothing” at me as an insult. I took it, as I do many things as the good and the bad showing us again how they depend on one another to exist. Now reading your post and learning the backstory of The Hook. How you want for little on the backs of your grandparent’s story…it is beautiful to want to little. As long as we appreciate it. Which you surely do. And help us to as well. Thanks

  18. “…we should all feel a measure of shame for taking this world for granted.” exactly, my friend. How well said…

  19. Carrie Rubin says:

    “I think of this age we live in, with its many luxuries and creature comforts and I wonder what our ancestors would make of it.”—Isn’t that the truth?

    What a wonderful tribute to your grandparents as well as all the men and women who serve our country and strive to keep us safe. Terrific post.

  20. Cat says:

    Moving words.

  21. bardictale says:

    War. Worst invention of mankind, the cause of much misery.
    May they rest in peace.

  22. My gosh, this is heart-rending. You are right when you say everyone has a story to tell, but so few are able to tell them in the way that evokes the emotion of them. You also take us in the right direction for this topic. What a beautiful and honest tribute.

  23. Beautiful – your daughter is a very special girl!

  24. Your daughter is wise beyond her years. We can all take a lesson from her. We can also take a lesson from your grandparents. Their story means a great deal to me as I often wonder about how things were for people on “the other side” so to speak. It was pretty clear they didn’t all follow the beliefs of the madman. Thank you for sharing their story. It is one I will remember.

  25. Very moving and my heart breaks often for your Soldiers and their families. I worked care for a dying senior who told me one of his stories from war. He cried as he told it, as did I. I took his hand and thanked him, not only for his service but for changing me, opening my eyes.

  26. Andy Townend says:

    awesome as always……I’m in belgium for a while now…. and am documenting a thing or two here including this….

    http://belgianstreets.wordpress.com/2013/11/11/in-flanders-fields/#wpl-likebox

  27. 1jaded1 says:

    This is so beautifully written. It is a continuous reminder that the wish for world peace is not cliche, at all.

    • The Hook says:

      Definitely not.
      Perhaps next year you could write a piece for me? Your poetic heart must have some amazing thoughts on this subject.

  28. Daile says:

    Beautiful writing Hook. Much emotion – your daughter is a wise soul

  29. bfg666 says:

    “You stand over their lifeless form knowing you and you alone are responsible for ending the life of someone you could call friend under different circumstances.”

    Wrong. Replace “knowing” with “thinking.” The only responsible for this death is the guy in charge who thought it would be a good idea to send his people to death, in this case Adolf. I dream of a time when rulers of the world will settle their feuds on a ring, mano-a-mano, like in Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s “Two Tribes” video, and leave us plebeians alone.

  30. There was a phrase in The UK during WW1 that I always recall this time of the year “Lions led by donkeys” – honour those who gave so much and watch the feckers who still want war

  31. Jack Steiner says:

    Perspective is important.

  32. WordsFallFromMyEyes says:

    Hook, of all the posts I read of Remembrance Day, this is the greatest. I didn’t know you origins, “secure origins”, and am fascinated. You know my Polish Grandmother was married to a Polish Army man (brought forth my mother), but he perished in Auschwitz, & mum & grandmother escaped Poland with mum’s sister.

    I loved hearing this of your background, gives me a whole new view of you, and then where you led this post – just fantastic.

  33. Somewhat belated but then again I only recently discovered you…

    This is such a good post. Very thought provoking and moving stuff, thanks for putting it out there man.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s