Tuesday, November 11, 2008
... We remember them ....
Today is the most sacred day on the secular calendar - when the world in its glory and chaos hits the pause button for a few precious minutes to honor the sacrifice of so many lives over so many decades that bought us our freedoms.
As the descendant of veterans, who fought in every generation for their beliefs since mankind picked up the first pointy stick, I feel this day at the molecular level. This year has special poignancy as today is the internment of my cousin's ashes - James Arnal Hayward is number 88 out of the 97 Canadian casualties that are our country's most recent offering on the altar of freedom.
I was reminded again today of the reasons why good men and women put on a uniform, shoulder their weapons and kiss their families goodbye to go and fight what is truly the Good Fight. My dear friend and spiritual sister Jasmine RR very courageously posted her family's story of their time with their Nazi overlords in a post called "May They Shine On" on her brand new blog - Ink'd Indigo - which is a must read. I commented as well on this very brave and heart-rending post. Thank you, my sister, for telling your family story. Thank you. Thank you. I cry with you.
On this day, we remember. On this day, we honor the fallen. On this day, we pray for peace. On this day we celebrate our freedoms, and rights, and teach our children that their privileges have been paid for with the life blood of their ancestors.
Pipes will play Amazing Grace.
Trumpets will sound the Last Post.
Flags will be lowered, and 21 Guns will sound the Salute.
Fighter Jets will honor their Missing Man as they fly overhead.
Across this nation, grieving mothers wearing silver crosses pinned to their heavy hearts will lay a wreath, say a prayer, and say goodbye again.
Children will wave flags, and those veterans who can will proudly march in their Legion Finery, some rolling with their marching brothers in silver wheeled chariots.
Troops will form ranks and march in step - Army, Navy, Air Force, Special Forces, Blue Bereted Peace Keepers to the beating of the battle drums.
Chaplains will struggle to find words that speak to an ecumenical community, and to the nonbelievers in a Divine Power - to unite us in our national grief and our national respect.
Men in Ribbon Shirts will wave an eagle feather over sweetgrass and sage, and offer prayers to the Great Spirit of this Great Land.
The sun rises on my home and native land this Remembrance Day - 90 years since the War to End All Wars - and we are fighting still. The sun will set with our soldiers still deployed - and being redeployed - and put into harms way to fight for peace and to hold the line against terrorism. To liberate a people. To protect and defend the weak, the powerless, the helpless, the disenfranchised. Most of those people in uniform will come home. Some will not. Some will join their Ancestors, many of whom have fallen in the line of duty over the centuries of human conflict. And from the rising of the sun to its setting - we will remember them...
To every man and woman who has worn a uniform and fought under the flag of Justice, of Truth, of Freedom, of Democracy - I thank you. I live in the freedoms of religion and legal empowerment that you paid for. My grandfathers, my uncles, my cousins, my friends in uniform - I thank you. The tears I shed for you today, I shed for the future as well. May this be the last generation that offers up its best and brightest to the cause of war. May we find a way to open a Department of Peace to replace the Department of War. May we stand firm against those who would take away our freedoms. We need a strong military - because there will always be those who want to take away what we have. We must support our troops - even as we hate the idea of war - and we must never forget what they endure so we can live our daily lives in peace and security and comfort.
And as we grow old, and celebrate peace hard won and dearly paid for, may we always remember them who do not grow old. We owe them that much. We owe them so much more.
Write to your member of Parliament and insist that Nov. 11 become a National Statutory Holiday - with all non-essential services closed. As the veterans of the Two World Wars become fewer each year, we must ensure that this day does not lose it's importance on the National Calendar. You don't even have to put a stamp on your letter. Our veterans paid for that too.