Half a lifetime ago, my mom and I were in the car listening to Remembrance Day ceremonies in Ottawa on the radio. She told me a story that one of her uncles told her about his experience during WW2. Her uncle got separated from his company somehow. He found himself in a farmers field, and the farmer’s wife saw him. She could have alerted the German soldiers in the area, which would have likely meant certain death for him. Instead, she rushed out to the field and dragged him to his knees. They prayed together in that field, in their respective languages, and then she hid him until the enemy division was gone. Had she been found out, it would have likely meant certain death for her. Instead, this woman helped a frightened soldier alone in a strange place.
I have stood on the side of farmer’s fields, and at the edge of battlegrounds like Passchendaele and Beaumont-Hamel and have thought about this story. In the chaos of the battles, this could have been anyone. As battalions advanced and the front line moved with each foot of muddy field won or lost, this could have been anyone. I feel like there were many farmers’ wives and many soldiers, isolated by language, but joined by fear and faith and humanity.
This Remembrance season, may I remember that the heroes of war were not only those in uniform.