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.