In Canada and many countries around the world November 11th is a day to remember those who have fallen in wartime.
Personally I cannot imagine living through the carnage that is witnessed during combat. I think about my grandfather and father. Both served. My grandfather during World War 1 and my father during World War 2.
I didn’t know my grandfather very well. He passed away when I was just six years old. And in truth, I didn’t know my father very well either. I don’t know the man he was prior to going to war, or should I say boy. He was just eighteen years old when he signed up. I do know the man he became.
He wasn’t a very kind man. In fact, he could be incredibly cruel and abusive. Still, there were times when I glimpsed a man who could make so many laugh, who had charm and ready smile.
He never talked about the war. That was a topic never open to discussion. There were many times when he would have a look in his eyes that was terrifying. It was feral and cold in nature. Anger would take hold and it was as if all that made him human simply drained away.
I have often wondered if this behavior resulted from his time in the war.
Perhaps I was looking for an excuse to explain the punishments that seems to always be so extreme. My young mind couldn’t comprehend that he was just like this or that I was go God awful that the beatings were warranted.
After all, my entire family suffered at his hands in some manner.
Always on this day I reflect on those who have fallen. Thinking about the wars that have been waged and that so many young men and women still to this day are subject to the darkest and most vial side of humanity.
I asked my dad once, and only once, if he had killed anyone in the war. Seems a silly question. I was thirteen or fourteen at the time. Not sure why that question slipped from my lips.
He didn’t answer. The coldness in his eyes and the change in his demeanor told me that he had. Whatever demons he inherited during wartime stayed with him all the days of his life there after and died with him.
And I will never know if he was like that because of war.
Many men came home and were able, to some degree, to put it behind them and carry on to become loving husbands and fathers.
I hope that we will one day learn to resolve our issues without the use of force or weapons. Perhaps if we could just understand that we do not own this planet. We never will. We simply inhabit it, as millions of other life forms do, and we have a responsibility to respect and preserve this home of ours.
Fighting over land, resources, technology, etc. that are being pillaged at a disgusting rate seems barbaric at times. Yet our appetite and consumption of these resources seems to fuel this ideology. We have the technology to create clean energy and develop a sustainable resource base.
Many of you are just as aware of this as I am so I won’t dwell on this topic today.
I just hope that there will come a time when we can learn the lessons from the sacrifice of the fallen and live in peace.
They fought for freedom, for choice, for democracy, for a life full of possibilities.
I will not forget. And I will try to honour their sacrifice by living my life with open and loving heart.