No matter where you go, each country has a form of remembrance for its war dead. Some are quiet gatherings while others are grand affairs. Invariably, there are people who stand in front of cenotaphs and wear poppies to pay their respects, there are people who object to such events as a glorification of war, and there are people who just don’t seem to grasp the relevance in today’s society. In the hearts of most however, I’d like to think, none of them really want to see a war.
Yes, I wear a poppy, several in fact. I wear a pin and a medal too. I don’t see it as a glorification of war. I wear them as a symbol of respect and outward remembrance for the people who died protecting my freedom. Even when I don’t go to a Remembrance Day ceremony, I still wear the symbols of remembrance on my shirt, I will still stand silent for two minutes on the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month, each year. However, I believe this alone is not enough.
Remembrance is not merely about respect. Remembering the facts of war is not really remembering either. There is little connection to the past for current generations. Many people today would question what it is they are suppose to remember, considering most of the people who survived the war have passed on. How are they to remember an event they were not part of? How are they to remember someone they never knew?
Remembering for me goes deeper than respect or facts. What is often forgotten in remembrance is the very thing we should remember, the individual people who died. One needs to identify with the people we are asked to remember. The way to do that is to find out about them, not in general, but as individuals. When I remember, the thought of war is present, but it’s what’s lost in war, the people who died and their sacrifice that I think about.
Jock joined the air force before war broke out. He fixed aircraft for several years, but in 1943, when more Engineers were needed for Lancaster bombers, he remustered as a Flight Engineer. If he had continued to serve his country on the ground, it is likely he would have survived the war.
Larry was married and much older than the average recruit. He didn’t have to join the war effort. He applied anyway and was highly regarded in his field.
George too was much older than the average recruit. Initially he was turned away from enlisting because he was married and starting a family. He didn’t have to join the war effort. He became the proud father of two young children. A few years later, he reapplied. The air force needed more men. They didn’t turn him down a second time. He never got to see his children grow up.
Bud was young and knew he would be called up sooner or later. Instead of waiting to be called up, he volunteered when he turned 18. He died on his first op.
Bob joined air cadets in his teens, preparing to join the air force later on. He too volunteered as soon as he was eligible.
William had finished his general education, but to join the air force he needed to complete his grade twelve. He took correspondence courses and later moved closer to town so he could go to school and complete his education, just so he could volunteer to serve his country.
Initially, the air force turned Norman away due to health problems. He reapplied later and despite having the same health issues he was considered fit to fly.
All of these men were determined to serve their country. They each had a job to do, and they did it.
Together, they joined the many in the fight for freedom. In the end, they sacrificed everything.
I will remember them.