Sunday was Remembrance Day for us Canadian folk (I believe it was Veteran's Day for you US-er's, no?) and it was rather poignant that I found myself in conversation with my grandmother who was reminiscing about the 'old days'. She was relaying the danger she lived through during the war and at one point looked up at me and shook her head solemnly and said - "I have no idea how I'm still alive!" And I believe it. I cannot comprehend (thank GOD!) things like air raids, bunkers, bomber planes actually bombing my world to smithereens and other niceties that world wars bring with it. Oma lived for a while not too far from the train line to Auschwitz, and the father of her brother's wife, being a train engineer, was forced by the Germans to transport people there. Horrible, horrible, horrible, all of it.
My grandfather (Oma's husband who's been gone 20+ years now) had been drafted into the German army, and unwilling to fight for them, surrendered to the Americans as soon as humanly possible. He lived out the rest of WWII in a Prisoner of War camp somewhere in North America. So it was a no-brainer for Oma and Opa, when the war was either over or coming to an end (Oma's timelines are getting sort of fuzzy) to take their young baby (my dad) and, along with her parents, emigrate to Canada. Oma loves...like LOVES...Canada. She's so grateful for this country, even after 70 years of living here. It makes me thankful for my homeland, proud to be Canadian and even more than that, her gratitude inspires me to be deeply and profoundly grateful to those who fought for our freedom - for our service men and women. I love hearing these stories - and I WILL remember.
For the Fallen
By Robert Laurence Binyon
With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.
Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres,
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.
They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England's foam.
But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;
As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.