Friday, November 7, 2008

Thank a veteran

Growing up my parents instilled in me and my siblings a great respect and admiration for the men and women who have served and continue to serve in the military. I remember standing out in the cold and snow at my town's Remembrance Days ceremonies because it was what we did. I remember being intrigued by the stories from the eras of the World War I and World War II. My maternal grandfather fought in World War II and although I would beg him to share his experiences with me, he never did. Instead he would simply say that what he saw and experienced was better left in the past. As I grew older and learned more about these Wars, I began to realize the depth of the horrors that the men and women who fought in them saw. I recall reading about men who would lay in trenches infested with mice and lice, with 2 feet of water in the bottom of the trench, turning it into mud. Themes of fatigue and hunger are prevalent in the stories. I heard first hand stories from a veteran in my hometown about watching his friends die from enemy bullets.

Every year, Canadians wear poppies to show remembrance for the sacrifices of these men and women. The history of this practice can be traced back to a poem written by a soldier during World War I. John McCrae was a Lieutenant Colonel and he wrote this poem the day after watching one of his friends die in a battle in France:

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead.
Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
— Lt.-Col. John McCrae

I remember learning this poem in Elementary school and repeating it every Nov. 11. I will never forget the Remembrance Day ceremony when I was in Grade 6 and I was chosen to lay a wreath in memory of those brave men and women. I felt so honoured. Even at a young age, I knew that the men and women of the military deserved respect. They had sacrificed everything so that we could enjoy freedom. To me, that is what the Poppy signifies. And I wear it with pride

I have been to Arlington Cemetery. What a sobering sight. Rows upon rows of white headstones marking the graves of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country. I recall standing there, in the middle of the sea of white and being moved to tears. It was then that I vowed to never let my children go a day without knowing about these people.

On the same trip, I went to the World War II Memorial in Washington, DC. The second I walked into the plaza, tears sprang to my eyes. I don't think they were tears of sadness, but rather tears of gratitude. As I walked around the Memorial, I came across an old man, dressed in his military uniform. I asked him if I could take his picture. He consented. After I took the picture, I shook his hand and said "Thank you" through a tight throat and tear-filled eyes. This man looked me right in the eyes and said "It was a honour to serve."

This Tuesday November 11 marks the 90th anniversary of the end of World War I. Since that day there have been numerous wars, millions of lives lost. Even as I write this, we are engaged in a war in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. Wars are never popular with everyone, and one of the beauties of the freedom we enjoy is that those who oppose war have the right to express their opinion. I hope those who oppose war realize that they have that right because men and women fought and died for that right. Whether you are for or against war, please take some time in the next few days to think about these sacrifices. And if you have a chance, thank a veteran.


BBKing77 said...

Mitch, you're awesome! That was a cool video. (What will they NOT make a beer commercial about?)

Anyway, I've got my poppy on. I've worn it every day so far this month.

Seeing the war memorial that I went to in England helped me to put a lot of perspective on things that I never had.

CS said...

this entry really moved me chelle. it's beautiful. it gave me goosebumps, in fact! i feel the same way about everything. such overwhelming gratitude for what those who serve our country do for us and the rights we enjoy because of it.

Roeckers said...

OK so I must say here is another American-Canadian difference. I love the poppies we grew up with!! I hate the ones you get on Memorial day here in the states. I asked my dad to buy me like a dozen this year so I can have them for Memorial day...LOL

Anyways as you are married to a service member, Thank you from my family to both you and your husband for serving our country!

I saw that movie right after Jake got back from Iraq. I bawled like a baby! I have also witnessed such a seen in the airport, it is amazing to see the otherwise stressed, sometimes saddened faces of those going off to war be cheered up by people who support them!

Jocelyn said...

I just sent out about 14 different cards to my finds and family who have/ are serving in the military. {if I had your address I would have sent one to you too. {speaking of i need you address for our christmas/ holiday cards! email my at blueyesjazz @ hotmail dot come} {if you want one that is} anyway I so admire the men and women of this country who honor our country and protect our freedom. give your hubby a hug for me!

Roeckers said...

To insert a video:

Go to youtube and on the right of the video you'll see the 'embed' block. Copy that code ( CTRL+C ).

Go to your blog entry and switch to HTML then paste the code where you want the video to appear.

Switch back to "Compose" and you'll be able to type the rest of your blog. You should be able to see the video when you hit "preview" to make sure it's in the right spot.

To help me find the right spot in the code I usually input a word that I can search for. Type in something like "myvideohere" When you're looking at the HTML code it's not always easy to find the right spot. This way you can search CTRL+F for the word "myvideohere" and it will show you where you want to put it.

Hope this helps!!


SongbirdMama said...

Chelle.....that was beautiful. I couldn't have agreed more. It is amazing the sacrifice that these men and women are so willing to make for our freedoms. I have not been to the same memorials as you....but I have been to the ones at Pearl Harbor. It is an amazing sense of respect and gratitude that take over you when you realize what has been done to protect our lives and freedoms. Your husband is my hero.....along with all his brothers and sisters in the military and their families that support them. Thank you!!