Remembrance Project: Remembrance Day 2020

Rows of small white crosses in the foreground with veteran's names printed on each crosspiece. In the background is the Legion building where these veterans were members.
Field of Honour at Royal Canadian Legion Branch 126 (Preston)

Today I stood out on my walkway with Child. It was a lovely warm day where I am. We stood and waited for two honour flights to pass overhead – one flightpath went over cenotaphs, one over cemeteries where veterans now rest. I asked him how it felt for him to not be in his dress kit, formed up at a legion waiting for the parade to step off to the cenotaph for services. He frowned slightly. He spent 8 years in his cadet kit at either Galt or Hespeler, and last year he was in Montreal as a regular forces member, marching with the storied Black Watch. This year he was barefoot in his own driveway and he felt bereft. He wanted to do more, but orders are orders, so he stayed home.

After the planes passed over, we came inside to watch services from Ottawa. We watched in silence. Except for him breathing the words to God Save the Queen and O Canada, the TV feed was all there was in the room.

Poor weather in Ottawa scrubbed the fly-over there.

I looked over at him again, and he was making the face he does when he is emotional. Remembrance services have always left him like that, from when he was a child. Hearing Last Post and La Rousse stir his heart. It makes me proud to see it. He doesn’t know how to put words to it, though, so he just said he likes it better when it snows on Remembrance Day. It feels harder. It feels more real. He frowned some more, and then went up to start his training day.

I understand what he means, though. The gentlemen in my house like war drama. We watch Band of Brothers several times a year, every year. We watch Saving Private Ryan, Hyena Road, Hacksaw Ridge. I have unrestful sleep and upsetting dreams for days after I watch them. I know it’s going to happen, and I watch anyway, because that kind of discomfort seems miniscule compared to the sacrifice others have made. I mean, it’s not a contest, but learning the stories feels important to me – more important than the fitful sleep.

For him, standing vigil, standing in the cold to honour the Canadian Armed Forces members on whose shoulders he now stands feels important.

As we close down this Remembrance season, may we each find the Thing that Feels Important and hold on to it all year, not just for a fortnight in November.

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