It is November 11th, 2010 and we honor our veterans today, paying respect to those who have died in service of our country and indeed to the world. I am proud that Canadians celebrate this national holiday to remember the great sacrifices these men and women made, while continuing to honor those who still serve in the name of peace and freedom.
People come together across this country in large cities, small communities and in their living rooms; young and old to pay tribute. They commemorate this day because each of us knows it is our duty. It is the least we can do. For every name that crosses the lips of another, for every name that is carved into stone, for every memory that is handed down from generation to generation, there is a story that must be heard. Lest we forget.
Today, my mother shared again some of her stories growing up in England, her father Canadian born, her mother English. My mother remembers being sent to the bomb shelters and then arising to see if all of the houses on her street were still there. Sometimes they still stood proud, sometimes they were no longer. She spent more time underground at her school and questions now how that must of been for her parents to send their children to school, not knowing if they would return. My mother recalls being separated from her parents and siblings, they were sent to different areas of England, as the raids got worse. A decision not easy for her mother but one that was needed in order to ensure the safety of her children...or so she thought.
One story is quite stirring, as she reflected on a day she was in the field just outside a village she had been sent to, she was playing happily with her little friend. At one point the two girls noticed a German plane that was well off course, it had been hit and for whatever reason he was now flying inland instead of out. Getting lower in the sky they realized he was heading their way, they began to run. Perhaps knowing he was destined to die he decided he might as well go out doing what he was trained to do, kill the British. My mother and her girlfriend ran as fast as they could as he fired shots at them, she remembers him being so close, she had to push her friend down on the gravel path. He crashed. Today, she laughed a little, recalling how her friend got mad at her because she received cuts and bruises from the push to the gravel.
During the war her parents provided lunch, music and prayer in the home for soldiers who wanted family connection. My mother, before she was twelve, sang for the troops. In fact, that became her job, by her teens she was traveling a lot with a show that entertained the troops returning from war, including the "burnt airmen" and the "men returning from Japanese internment camps." She remembers doing shows in which the sounds of D-Day was so clear on that side of the pond, she heard the battle. The shows themselves were not only important to the spirit of soldiers but also used to determine the mental health of those returning with shell shock and other like impairments. Did they respond to any stimuli?
My mother was a very well known singer back then, considered one of the best and she has so many stories to tell of her time during the war. The food rations, the faces and stories of service men, the strictness of her father, the strength of her mother. It explains today so many things I see in her, remnants from a child growing up in war time.
Today, I remember the sacrifice of so many that served in battle and I also honor all those families that raised and protected their children. Trying desperately to give them some moments of normalcy in what must have been terrifying times. Here is a salute to you all. I write this because you protected and supported so many, including my mother.
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