Wednesday, November 7, 2007

A time to remember

My Poppy served in World War II. He was a selfless man, proud, strong, honest and hard working. He left such a mark on me: gave me an image of the person I want to be. He died of cancer a few years back and I find it hard still to think about him as gone. Poppy never really talked about his time in the war, he found it too difficult. But he was the man behind the scenes at the memorial services, and at the parades, and he kept the cenotaphs in good condition throughout the year. It was important to him that people remembered, honoured, and were grateful for the sacrifices made by so many young men and women.

This time of year I think about him a lot, because he always had a difficult time around Remembrance Day. So I guess he was in the back of my mind guiding me to a story about Canada’s War Brides: over 45,000 British and European women who left behind everything that was familiar to them to start a new life in post-war Canada.

Canadian War Brides is trying to gather stories from these brave women. Their tales are incredibly romantic; their journeys are inspiring and sometimes tragic, yet they leave you with a greater understanding of this amazing group of Canadian women. Of course, this is a Newfoundland Blog, so I must highlight the story of Rosalind Elder. I should also thank her for teaching me a Newfoundlander's toast I had not heard before:

I bows towards you,
I nods accordant.....
I catches your eye and I smiles

**The Picture above is of Newfoundland War Brides from the St. John's "Rose and Thistle Club", Christmas 1950. Photo courtesy of Rosalind Elder. Ms. Elder also has a website, and has a book of her own called Maples and Thistles


WhitbyDude01 said...

It is easier to forget about wars and war veterans if you are not attached to someone who is/was directly involved with one. People often talk about those who die for us, for Canada, but I wonder how often people consider the impact a conflict has on someone who KILLS for Canada. Yes they are trained soldiers, yes this is their job, but I think there should also be some compassion set aside for these people. We now have Canadians both young and old who know what it's like to be shot at and to shoot to kill while friends around you are doing the same or dying.

On a side note I think it is an insult to anyone in the military that Remembrance Day is no longer a national Holiday. For those who not aware a few years ago former Prime Minister Jean Chretien gave the provinces the power to decide whether or not to set aside November 11th as a holiday.

Ontario has decided to opt out. However, we have the first weekend in August off (Lord Simcoe Day weekend....who the fuck is that and who cares???). Queen Victoria day (May 24) weekend is still observed (as if that has any relevance other than the excuse to burn an inexorbitant amount of fuel to travel 100's of kilometers way to a place crowded with thousands of other people doing the same thing). Recently Dalton McGuinty has announced a family holiday weekend in February which is nice and all but...

no longer a day of remembrance? To express thankfulness? To just reflect on what role these people have played and are currently playing overseas in places like Afghanistan?

It is our moral obligation to say the very least.

Jay said...

I never considered what WD said but it is true. We took our children to the cenotaph and our son has taken his. Perhaps it has to be theindividual who takes initiative and doesn't work or shop in remmberance .