Monday, November 3, 2014

Remembrance...of Events

True Life Story-ettes

An article by Jeff Mahoney (Hamilton Spectator), tells of  a few war remembrances as related to him.

Mae Davies, of Hamilton Mountain had an older brother.  “He was 18 when I was born.  My mother thought I was a tumour until it became clear she was having a baby.”  So when said brother, George Carnegie, went off to WWII in 1939, Mae was hardly more than an infant.

Although exchanging letters and pictures while he served overseas, George didn't talk much about the war after he returned in 1945. His mother did notice that the army had taught him some good habits.  Like making his bed.  Wrong!  It was Mae doing it for him. George died recently, age 93.

George drove a large munitions convoy truck in the Italian campaign.  He rigged a still in the back of the truck and made liquor from Italian oranges explaining perhaps, his life-long love of Grand Marnier.
As the liberation of Italy proceeded apace, George and his unit stopped at a farmhouse. The farmer and his wife made the most delicious  meal of roasted rabbit with slivers of garlic pushed into the meat.  Best of all, the farmer dug something out of the ground:  the one thing he'd kept out of the Nazi's hands.  His homemade red wine!  Priorities, right?  They drank it with the meal.

Jen Potter told about workouts at a gym she attends in Ancaster run by Eddie Warne.  He's ex-British military (served in Iraq).  “All last week,” says Jen, “every workout at the gym was based on the numbers from a different war.  Tuesday was WW2 ~ and we had to do presses to represent the number of soldiers;  skips for the number of countries involved; and 12 'man maker' exercises for the kid who lied about his age at 12 to serve overseas.” 

Eddie has poppies on his workout shirts.  In a recent strongman competition in the United States, he remitted his winnings to the favourite charity of a vet he was honouring.

How serious is this guy about keeping the spirit of Remembrance Day going all year around?  He named his daughter Poppy.

Lorraine Sommerfeld (Journalist)
says, “Thank you to All Who Serve!”

“Did you serve?” I was asked. I looked at the young man taking my money as I paid for a  magazine recently at Jacksonville airport.  I'm sure my blank expression  confused him, because it took him a moment to gesture my outfit.  I'd been laughing the day before with a friend at the surplus store, discovering I could buy desert camo pants.  And now, I felt like a fraud!

We are removed from war even as we are in the midst of it.  Real life, real-time violent images seem to be blunted by the ridiculous culture we've created that has decided we want to reflect that violence in our entertainment.  War as entertainment ~ it's no wonder those who are returning from actual war zones find peace in broken bodies...and even more, broken minds.

Canada is a peacekeeper, we're repeatedly told. But don't forget for a moment that these men and women are fully trained and ready to face combat if that peace in another nation is threatened.

Frequently, I drive the Highway of Heroes ~ that stretch designated as a fallen soldier's last ride.  I wonder how many signed up, planning on becoming heroes.  “Did you serve?” echoes in my brain and I realize this is the word...Serve.  I am reminded that those who die serving, have offered up all they have, and those who have been damaged doing the same thing have lost who they used to be.

Growing up, Remembrance Day meant considering something much removed from my sensibilities.  Watching old men at ceremonies, proudly displaying ribbons and pins that I found colourful, but very confounding.  I associated the day with standing in the cold, very quietly, to be respectful while peering cautiously around...wondering how grown people could cry so silently. Even as I learned more, I was still unable to grasp how they couldn't leave the past  behind...step out of the pain, much like they'd stepped out of their uniforms. Now we have entire generations all over the world, who have shown me...the pain lives on. Kids, as young as my own, are choosing to serve!

Thank You to David who sends the following poem:

Honour the Warriors whose blood is the price
For our way of life, be they our own or Ally and Friend.

These young are the ones who pay in the end.
Herodotus quoted, “Fathers bury their sons.”

'Tis always that way when a war must be won;
The young Man or Woman who stand in Harm's Way
Are owed such a debt we cannot repay.

So, Honour our Dead...speak not ill of them.
Remember their lives...their courage...their will.

Herodotus, a Greek historian (484-425 BC) wrote,
In times of peace, Sons bury their Fathers.
In time of war...Fathers bury their sons.

Composed by Merle Baird-Kerr...October 10, 2014
Comments appreciated...e-mail to:

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