Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Day of Remembrance

Today is Remembrance Day - and because my workplace closes, I have a day off. I always look forward to this day - as a gift of sorts. I traditionally spend it Christmas shopping. So in keeping with tradition I set out early this morning. I couldn't help but notice how many people were wearing poppies and suddenly felt self conscious about the empty space on my jacket where my poppy had been pinned - until it blew away.

I shopped the morning away and just as I was making my way to the checkout, arms laden with goods and goodies, a young female voice came over the P.A. system and started to read "In Flander's Fields". Most people stopped in their tracks, looking confusedly about as if unsure of what to do next. Some ignored the voice altogether, oblivious to anything out of the ordinary. When the reader reached the end of the poem she asked everyone to honour a minute of silence. Everyone - save the newborn screaming for its lunch - fell silent. I have never witnessed such orchestrated, public silence. I found myself reflecting on the words of the poem I had just heard. I marvelled at how even 90 years later we are honouring the sacrifice of the young people of that generation. I thought of the young men and women who are at this very moment, serving in a god forsaken dust bowl in unbearable heat, another world away from their loved ones and all that is familiar to them. They are serving without the comforts of home -- or any comforts at all. They are missing family dinners, as well as milestones - weddings, graduations, births, deaths ... Their lives are in limbo; they are serving in a place what can be likened to purgatory - neither heaven nor hell.

And I wonder when their day is done, and silence falls around them, where do their thoughts take them? Do they know that their efforts are appreciated? Do they know that they will come home different people, forever changed by their experiences and hardships? If they could hear me now I would tell them - thank you. I remember.

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