November 11, 2014

Remembering Today

Although I don't have any immediate family who served in the Second World War or any war for that matter, Remembrance Day still touches my heart.

When I was a snot-nosed, know-it-all punk back in the day, I complained to my father that I had a day off school but what good was it if nothing was open?! I was not impressed with the system.

My father was born in 1929 and therefore, too young to enlist in the military and go off to war. His older brother and brother-in-law served Canada and Canadians though.

I will never forget the interaction and conversation my father had with me that day when I was complaining on Remembrance Day. He simply sat me down and explained firmly how my uncles had to leave their loves ones and their lives as they knew them to protect our freedoms. Needless to say, my father was not impressed with my selfish attitude and comments. I gained a new understanding for our military, our veterans and all who were lost in the wars. My gratitude to each and every one of them is deeply heartfelt.

A few decades later I took my elderly father to visit his family in a neighbouring province. I met wonderful people, ate delicious food and captured many beautiful sights. I made many memories but one in particular is with me frequently.

We visited my dad's older brother who fought in World War II and was stationed in Italy. I won't profess to know much about our wars because the truth is, I don't know much.

This visit to my uncle's house was the first time meeting him since I became an adult. He was a simple man living in his beautiful, old house with his son, my cousin. Sure, we're family but they were so welcoming and made me feel part of the family so easily.

As the day wore on and the boys discussed relatives and friends whom I didn't know, the farm then and now and had some hilarious recollections, the conversation turned to war times.

We spent quite a while examining, what I thought was outrageous and courageous, the shrapnel still embedded under various parts of my uncles skin. The pieces that did not penetrate deeply could be seen very easily with the naked eye. I thought what memories those scars must "serve" my uncle on a daily basis.

My uncle didn't say much about the specifics of his time served but I could have listened to war-related stories for the duration of my vacation. What he did do at one point was leave the room only to return shortly thereafter with a simple cardboard box. Within it held some beauty for me and I'm sure, some very hard memories for him. Inside that box held his war medals and when I saw them I was in absolute awe. It all made sense. It was all clear. The brave and unselfish man sitting in front of me was another one of my heroes. And my dad was a hero for explaining the importance of Remembrance Day to me all those years before.

I wish I remembered what each medal was for. I apologize for the lack of quality in this photo (and I'm sure there is a much better one around here somewhere!) but I'm so very proud of my uncle and just wanted to share a special memory.

You're our hero, Uncle Jack. 
Thank you for fighting for our freedoms 
and for sharing a special time with us. 
You are remembered and all is not forgotten.

To every veteran and military personnel everywhere, I am giving you a deeply heartfelt thank you for all you have done for me and this free country.

God Bless each and every one of you.

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