Thursday, November 11, 2010


 We walk into church late-ish, just as the first song ends and the welcome begins.  I am feeling in control, diaper bag all packed for the boys' afternoon stay with their grandparents, me all dressed up in my new best, make-up done, hair brushed, black shoes found, ready for the memorial service later because there is no going home today.  I slide in, breathe a sigh of relief.  But then I see the poppies red pinned to every breast and my heart sinks.  My poppies rest at home, stuck on the bulletin board.

 Without the plastic flower, I look like the post-modern skeptic that many of my generation are.  When sacrifice is not having the absolute latest technical gadget and wars are fought in faraway places, depicted as either a strike for freedom or an oil grab, we lose perspective and dismiss those long ago battles along with those fought present day. When our brave men and women keep coming home in body bags, but stability is ever far away, war seems senseless.  There seems to be no good reasons to fight, we are disillusioned and extend that to our view of history and our heroes.  So many don't wear a poppy.  Pages come up rebuking Remembrance Day as a celebration of war.  Slowly the memories fade as each year there are less veterans walking in the parade, as digital media becomes more important than listening to the stories of the great-grandparents who carry those memories in their hearts, or engraved on their bodies.

I look like one, but am not.

 For I remember.  I've read stories, both real and fictional, of the sacrifices made, the sorrows and horrors witnessed.  I've listened to my grandmother tell her stories of her part in the war effort.  I've studied not just the war, but the war effort and how it shaped my country, my province and my city.  I've seen the cenotaphs in every city and town I've visited, engraved with the list of those fallen overseas.  My great-uncles served as pilots, my grandmother as a bookkeeper in the WAVES, my one grandfather as a volunteer in the Coast Guard, my other grandfather was in basic training when the war ended.  I remember, not the supposed glory of the war, but of the great sacrifice everyone of that period made.

 Mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters all said goodbye.  Some were lucky enough to say welcome home, but then walked for years alongside those coping with brutal memories of bloodshed.  All came home wounded, some physically, all haunted by those memories that couldn't be put away like the uniforms and medals given. People went years rationing simple luxuries like sugar or butter or meat, sacrificing everything for the war effort.  It wasn't in vain.

 So today, and often, I remember.  I remember that evil can flourish if not dealt with, even in our own hearts if not guarded properly.  I remember that sometimes great sacrifices are needed and I wonder if I could make them.  I remember a whole generation who sacrificed everything, even their best and brightest.  I remember the beginning of Canada's nationhood.  I may not wear my poppy, but today and always, I remember.

 And as I remember, I join with Emily today.


  1. Thank you for paying tribute to these dear, brave souls. My father squeezed into his army uniform for as long as he could to join his hometown's Memorial Day parade. My son is in the process of enlisting in the army. And while this mama is fearful, she is also enormously proud. Blessings to you.

  2. A beautiful read--and lots to ponder here--thank you so much.

  3. Thank you so much. You sound like me. I too can get caught up in my generation's war against wars, and while peace is of course ideal that doesn't change the bravery and sacrifice men and women have shown when there was no other choice but to fight for good. Well done.

  4. This was a good summation of how all of us run the risk of being detached ---skeptical, esp. if we haven't been told the stories or aren't experiencing someone absent because they are in Iraq or Afghanistan.
    My father was a POW in Germany and I have former students heading for those countries,so it's easier to remember.
    I do believe that we could and would unite and sacrifice if another 'great war' commenced. I don't think we would let go of our homefront freedom without a strong, steadfast fight, but then I'm a optimist when it comes to things like that.

  5. incredible, friend. just incredible. i didn't get to go a service today because they don't host one in my small town, but i feel as though i just did. you wore the poppy, grace. you did. i saw it, in these words. love you. e.

  6. So beautifully said. Poppies used to be used here in the USA, but I just don't see people wearing them anymore. Thank you for bringing back a memory.

    It's my first time joining Imperfect Prose & you!

  7. hooray for our veterans! they did sacrifice so much, and continue to do so. i am not a person who really "agrees" with war, but there was a quote i once heard by a general from long ago -
    "love the warrior, hate the war". i love any kind of warrior who fights for what they believe in...whether they are on my team or not.
    you have written about them beautifully !

  8. A beautiful tribute through your lovely words....thank you! :-)

  9. Very well done. What a lovely tribute, bold and true, yet gracious as well. That is hard to accomplish and you did!

    And I feel I learned something.

    Thank you!

  10. As we listen to the stories and share them with younger generations and each other, our lives are enriched and the sacrifices are not forgotten. GOD bless you for sharing your family's story.

  11. "...evil can flourish if not dealt with, even in our own hearts if not guarded properly..."

    So, so true. And if we all dealt with that evil in our hearts(doggedly), then would we ever fight? Maybe not. Who knows? But I was set free by the knowledge that my responsibility lies there, with ME, in my own heart.

    "...sometimes great sacrifices are needed and I wonder if I could make them..."

    I wonder, too.

    Thank you for this post. I enjoyed reading.