There we stood. It was bitterly cold in the shade, but above the shadows the day was sunny and dry. I kept thinking about how easy this was compared to what others had gone through. This slight inconvenience was nothing.
As we sang Oh Canada, tears ran down my cheeks. Why was I so sentimental about this? I kept thinking about my father’s namesake, killed in WWI at the age of 21. Although I haven’t visited the Menin Gate in Ypres, Belgium, I know his name is listed on the monument.
As my genealogical research has shown me, many relatives have fought. Many have lost their lives. Many were scarred forever, either physically or emotionally. For example, the records for a relative in Australia show that just one year after returning from war, he committed suicide. Of course I don’t know his full story or situation, but he must have been suffering greatly to have taken his own life.
As another tear fell, I felt somewhat ashamed to be so visibly emotional. Not to minimize my feelings, but I’m not directly affected by war except to benefit from the peace that has come as a result of so many personal sacrifices. Friends’ families live every day with the roller-coaster impacts that PTSD has on their loved who fought in Afghanistan. I cringe when I hear about communities both near and afar ripped apart by shootings and bombings. Who didn’t feel a bit frightened or angry to hear about the recent shootings in Paris?
Wearing my poppy and standing in the cold shadows on Remembrance Day seems like such a small way to show my appreciation. But let me say that my gratitude runs deep and I promise to never forget.