Photos- snapshots, really. Black and white and small gradually fading. Disappearing into the mists of time. An awful cliche but cliches are so worn because they convey the truth. Snapshots fade and so do memories.
I debated writing about Remembrance Day this year. I fear repeating myself and boring people. But if it bores others, I’ve decided that is their problem. I will continue to remember and to share. The world wars are long ago when measured by human lives so it is up to those of us touched and haunted by those conflicts to bring them to the attention of others.
My memories are personal because the World War 11 was a background to my youth. My parents did not dwell on the hardship or talk much about the conflict. They did, in some ways, want to forget. My Dad was in North Africa and through Italy and Belgium. He seldom talked about what he experienced, and like so many other WW11 veterans he wouldn’t answer questions or he would brush them aside. The few anecdotes he shared were: that once he wandered through a field while inebriated. When he woke up, he saw he had staggered through a mine field. Another time, he was sleeping in a pile of hay when a German shell fell near him but didn’t explode. In Italy, he saw a boy running though the streets home, grasping a wriggling eel. Perhaps the first protein his family would have had in a very long time.
My Dad had a private airplane and he did love to fly. It wasn’t just an idle passion. He had the airplane so that should war ever touch Canadian shores, he would fly us somewhere safe. He never wanted his family to experience the horrors he had.
My mother lived through the Battle of Britain and the bombing. She lived with her sister and remembered a card table-like structure, they’d bring out and hide under when the bombers came. She remembered the rationing and the blackouts, the sounds of the doodle-bugs, V1 flying bombs, a bomb with wings. She remembered (she might have been a teenager) riding with “Jeffry” on his motorbike in the blackout. She remembered Churchill’s stirring speeches. The war was immediate and real.
I do remember and my adult kids do. For my grand kids, the world conflict is farther and farther away. It is hard for them to imagine. Yet, my granddaughter wants to read about Ann Frank and her betrayal. Perhaps the sacrifices won’t be forgotten. I hope.
The Korean War, Canadian Peacekeeping Missions, and the work of Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan must be remembered, too. Their sacrifice is as important.
I will continue to remember and to try and keep others engaged in remembrance. Lest We Forget.