I stood outside yesterday, the cold wind biting at my ears. Before me the scene unfolds as I imagine it has for the last 90 years. The soldiers standing at attention with statue like stillness. The crowd dotted with poppies watch almost silently. I wriggle in my boots. My toes are cold and my ears are freezing. I think about complaining…And then I am ashamed.
My griping attitude suddenly catches sight of the red ears of those statue soldiers with nothing more than a brush cut between them and their felt berets. The scene flashes through my mind and makes me repent of my complaints. I see the cold trenches. The mud, stained with the blood of fallen comrades. I hear the blasts and the yelling, I do not hear complaints…
My daughter’s voice rings in my head. “I don’t want to go, mom. Those men are so old; I can’t understand what they are saying”. I am more than horrified. It is one of those moments when you wish the good Lord would rapture you out of there…Or the ground would swallow you up. I am speechless. I cringe under the glances of her grandparents…And then I am ashamed.
I should have dragged her there. In her pajama pants, no makeup, hair awry. It would have served her right. It would have humored me to see her face when we walked through the Legion doors and those old men she expected to see were actually young men dressed in their uniforms, clean cut, clean shaven, a 16 year old girls dream…but I had left with her grandparents hoping that they would deliver the finger waving/tongue lashing she deserved.
Truth be told the fault was mine. This is my first Remembrance Day service. Sure I have attended the school assemblies, sang proudly to Oh Canada, and listened to the “old” men deliver their speeches. I have been proud of the recited verse of Flanders Fields delivered by the small voice of my child. What I hadn’t considered was the fact that it may be nothing more to them than words that rhymed. I took for granted that they would understand…I am ashamed.
As I study the weathered faces and teary eyes of the veterans that have proudly put on their uniforms and braved the cold wind to pay their respects and remember, I repent of ever classifying this day as an “old persons holiday”. These men and women were not old. They were teenagers when they went to serve their country. They were not much more than children when they sacrificed their futures, for what? For ours. For my teenagers, at home, enjoying a day off school, warm and…free.
So next year I can assure you that I will be joined at service by three teenagers. They will be well dressed, adorned with poppies and they will remember. They will honor the soldiers that gave them their freedom when they were not much older than they are. They will say a prayer for our troops today, and they will proudly sing Oh Canada. They will remember…As I will not forget.