Friday, November 11, 2016

Remembrance Day in Our Little Town

Leaves danced along the sidewalk, following me down our quaint little main street. I had the day off for Remebrance Day - so I wanted to do just that- pay tribute to the fallen. Our local paper showed that our local service was to start at 10:45 at the modest cenotaph at the end of town. Hubby didn't think many would be there as the population in our rural community is small.

As I leaned into the wind making my way, groups of people quietly emerged from each side street, a sea of crimson poppies, falling in step, joining the growing informal parade. 

We walked in silence until we joined the hundreds already gathered at the cenotaph.  "The White Cliffs of Dover" was being sung by a small choir huddled in a circle for shelter from the wind. Two young cadets stood at attention, guarding the memorial.

Then strains of "Hallejuah" drifted on the autumn air, gaining strength and momentum as others joined the choir. How fitting that Leonard Cohen be included in the ceremony. I could feel the lump in my throat growing... A handful of elderly men and women leaned on canes, some sat in wheelchairs, and a few proudly stood at attention, eyes fixated on the monument. I couldn't help but wonder where their thoughts wandered; what memories were they reliving? 

As the final names of the fallen were read  we were asked to sing O Canada. I couldn't work my voice around the swelling golf ball in my throat. Tears streamed down my face; I could feel the pride, pain and memories from the 95 year old serviceman beside me. When the Last Post played he saluted with his gloved hand and held his head high... his eyes glistening to overflowing. I wanted to hug this elderly man and acknowledge his service. But instead I stood silently behind my sunglasses.

When it over, one by one people stepped forward to pin their poppies to the wreathes encircling the monument.   And in that moment we were bonded in community and peace. And that is something I will never forget.