i know in the US you have veteran’s day and memorial day, but here in canada we have remembrance day on november 11th. this year it falls on 11/11/11 and i know that at 11 am i will be remembering. how could i not? i think one of the reasons i remembrance day is so important to me, is similar to why i am a bit of a hoarder – i think our history is important and infinitely special.
people often ask me if i have a personal reason for caring so much about remembrance day. while i do have several reasons, i honestly think that’s a stupid question. everyone should care. and that they don’t is a real concern for me. remembrance day is alarmingly considered to be a day-off or long weekend for many people. it is unreasonable to expect everyone to devote an entire day, but many people don’t observe even a minute of silence. i worry that as the remaining veterans from WWII pass away, the importance of remembrance day will continue to diminish. and i think it will diminish despite the fact that we continue to have veterans to thank. it is time for remembrance day to ensure it includes not only the great wars and current combat and peacekeeping missions, but acknowledges that every single day there are service men and women who devote their lives to our country. i may not always believe in the politics behind all of our world’s current military action, but i will never question people’s decision to serve.
does that make sense anderson? sometimes my emotions make me less than eloquent.
so, anyway, a bit of my own family’s history. both of my grandfathers served in WWII, one survived and one did not. my paternal grandfather’s plane was shot down over germany, days before my father was born. that chain events of that loss are numerous, frustrating and unfortunate. my maternal grandfather was in the navy, and his time serving was so important to him. he passed away about 4 years ago and i miss him so much. i think back to the stories he told us – about stealing rum rations, about his friends with hilarous nicknames, the parts of canada he got to see – and i am filled with love and pride. he may not have spoken much about the bad aspects of war, or how, as a crew member on a corvette, he played a vital role in the supply chain, but we always knew.
a few months ago my mom and i were going through a box of his things and came across a few really cool mementos. we found service records that i can’t wait to study more. we even found some documentation about his name change. it’s such a great story, i know you will enjoy it! as a person with a distinctly eastern european last name, my grandpa was told he would only rise so far in the ranks. so, when in st. john’s newfoundland he found a phone book, went to the M section so he would have the same initials and picked a nice anglo-saxon name. and he did get promotions, so it was worth it. also worth it as the look on his second wife’s face when she learned he was not scottish but polish-ukranian. it’s too bad he had to change our name, but i get why he had to. i’ve contemplated changing my own name to his original surname. i’ll let you know if i do.
so once again, another long-winded letter about what goes on in my head. on friday i’ll be remembering and honouring not only the people in my own life, but making sure i pay my respects to everyone else who has served our country.
my grandpa on board the hmcs galt circa 1943
my grandpa and i circa 1986