Thursday, November 10, 2011

Remembrance Evolves Over a Life Time.

       Remembrance of those who served our country goes back a long time and things change and evolve. On thinking about remembrance I began to think about the various stages that we have gone through.

      I was born a few days after the WWII started. I can remember some things about the war through a young child's eyes. I had uncles who were overseas and my parents told me about them. My Mom was forever sending parcels to her brother and cousins. I was impressed with the many men I saw in uniform. We lived a short distance from a major training airbase and had many planes fly over each day.

      I remember young men coming back home and trying to reestablish their life. Most of them left the district after a few years for better opportunities elsewhere.

      My high school teacher was a navy veteran and some days I felt like he thought we were recruits he was training. He was an excellent teacher and influenced many a kid to do better.

      The first Principal I taught under in 1959 was a veteran. He was an able administrator who cared for his students and staff. Since my teaching career began in 1958 , there were many veterans teaching in the school system. When I was in the Arctic many government people were former service people as they had been given employment by the government. Of course, there were the baby boomers who attended school and most of  their parents had gone through the war.

     Most of these veterans who went through my life contributed immensely to the communities they lived in. There was a job that had to be done in the community and they just went out and did it. For example, many indoor hockey arenas were erected. They had learned this attitude during their wartime experience. They had a job to do and they went out and did it whether it was extremely unpleasant or not. 

      Over these years of my contact with service people I did not hear very much about their war experience except for the hijinks they were involved in. Much of their memories and experiences were kept to themselves or sometimes shared with someone who had gone through the horrors of war with them. 

      My son was in the reserve forces in Canada and that influenced the way I thought about our forces. I attended one remembrance service with him.

      Now many of the armed forces people from WWII have left us. Those who are still here are very elderly.

      So over the years my remembrance of what occurred has changed as things are added to my experience and understanding.

      I now have a friend who went through the war as a Flight Sergeant. He has been very good about telling of his war experiences. He has not shied away from telling of some of the horrors he experienced. The war shaped his life greatly. He had just finished high school and thinking about what to do with his life when the war came along and made that decision for him. He found his life's partner as he was training. They decided to marry after the war. The five years of war caused him to miss the normal experiences of life in a community. When he returned it was a struggle to become established. He worked hard and was successful in business, family and community.

      Today at 89 he still contributes. He leads a senior skating group and is the driving force behind its success. It's still the same . A job has to be done and he just goes out and does it.

      So I am thankful for all the people who went out and did the very nasty job of fighting in WWII. Their sacrifices were many. Many sacrificed their life. We owe our gratitude to the men and women who went out and "did the job."