My family has a history of military service. Both of my grandfather's served in World War II with the Navy, my mom served in Vietnam with the Army, my dad made a career out of the military -- first with the Navy and then transitioning to the Army, my brother-in-law served with the Navy, and I now find myself married to a Canadian Air Force pilot. We are no strangers to the sadness and triumph of military service and I grew up understanding that there were people who day in, and day out give their time and energy to securing the kind of freedoms many take for granted.
I am acutely aware that we cannot lose the stories from the past as they help inform the direction of the future. I remember asking my Grandpa Muscatello to tell me stories and he opened up, sharing little tidbits -- not many -- of what it was like on the ship in the Pacific. My Grandpa Evans would wear the baseball cap with his ship's insignia on it around town, a reminder to all of what he gave. My mom regularly shares her memories and photos from Vietnam where she worked as an ER nurse at the young age of twenty-two(!). She even arranges a celebration for Veterans at the school where she works, allowing them to tell their stories to groups of kids waving American flags and singing the Star Spangled Banner. My dad is a hero in my mind and I have many images of him standing in his uniform, proud and strong. I am fiercely proud of my family's military history and am grateful for all they did and continue to do.
Much like Veteran's Day in the States, the news stations and papers here in Canada cover Remembrance Day extensively and the poppies are everywhere. Here in Canada, Stuart McLean, from the Vinyl Cafe, delivers his annual Remembrance Day show (you can find his podcast on iTunes), songs are sung, parades are had, Veteran's remembered, and the poem "In Flanders Fields" is well-known.
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.
- John McCraeSo, on this Remembrance or Veteran's Day, wherever you are...take a moment to reflect, remember, and give thanks.