tomb of the unknown solidier


This Year Remembrance Day Feels Even More Important To Me

Nov 9, 2020

My grandfather was 19 years old when he left home to go overseas to become part of the 82nd Battery 4th Anti-Tank Regiment.

When my grandfather got on the train that would take him from his hometown of Gaspé, Quebec, to Quebec City and then off to England for basic training, I don’t think he understood the sacrifice he was about to make.

"He never spoke about the war. He hid away his uniform, his medals and anything else from that time."

Years later, as the war came to an end, my grandfather returned home where the fallout of those sacrifices would be realized. He spent his life battling the demons that followed him home. He eventually married and had children and his family bore the brunt of his sacrifices.

My grandfather chose to keep his sacrifices close to his heart.

He never spoke about the war. He hid away his uniform, his medals and anything else from that time. He didn’t offer us stories of his time overseas. Sometimes we were granted tiny glimpses into his memories when he would stare off into the distance and quietly whisper things like I remember Christmas overseas and we held our breath waiting to hear more, but soon his mind came back to where he was and the story was gone.

Books can help offer new perspectives and discussion points for difficult topics. Here is list of Remembrance Day books that librarians recommend.

Sometimes we heard tales from others who served with him and I couldn’t believe that what I was hearing was about the man who helped me learn to fish and who played accordion from his old chair in the corner of the room.

"If losing the freedom of being able to shop without a mask is the worst you’ve experienced, then count yourself lucky."

On one of my annual Remembrance Day calls to him, I asked him why he never went to the cenotaph for the Remembrance Day ceremonies and he answered simply “Because I don’t want to remember.” As he got older and started to become a bit more open to questions, I asked him one year if he would do it again. Knowing what he knows now; understanding what it was going to be like. Recognizing what he was going to experience, would he choose to do it again?

“Yes, I’d do it again,” he said. “Why?” I rebutted, not understanding why he would willingly put himself back in that situation. “Because someone had to,” he replied.

This year Remembrance Day feels even more important to me.

The world has changed

I think of the state of the world right now. Life is different. We have lost so much. Families are losing businesses they spent their lives building. We aren’t able to gather together to celebrate marriages, birthdays and babies. We wear masks everywhere.

People are getting sick.

People are dying.

Yet many don’t feel it’s necessary to adhere to the rules, recommendations and guidelines that are being put in place to try and keep us all as safe as possible.

Natalie and her family have been diligently following the recommendations and guidelines since the beginning of COVID-19. But not everyone does. Read her POV here.

My blood boils when I read of people claiming that being forced to wear a mask in public is infringing on their personal rights and freedoms.

I challenge that those individuals have never actually had their personal rights and freedoms taken from them. If losing the freedom of being able to shop without a mask is the worst you’ve experienced, then count yourself lucky.

For most of us, this has been hard.

I miss big parties and having 12 of us around the dinner table for family meals. I miss the neighbourhood kids that used to stream in and out of my house on a Sunday afternoon. I miss being able to hug people without thinking twice.

But all of these are small sacrifices for the greater good.

I can wear a mask. I can hold off on filling my house with people I love. I can keep my circle small and wash my hands and keep my distance if that means that I’m helping to lower the risk of people getting sick and potentially dying.

We can all make these sacrifices

This year on Remembrance Day, I ask you to think of the men and women who have sacrificed everything to keep us safe and living the life we are used to. I ask you to think of the mothers who have lost their children to battles. I ask you to consider what the lives of those who returned from war or who have escaped war torn countries are like. Consider the nightmares they live with and the fears that hide deep in their souls.

It's after I think of all that, that I question how someone can consider wearing a mask to be too much.

"What we are being asked to do is minuscule by comparison."

As my grandfather got older and Alzheimer’s began to kick in, he started to speak more of his time at war. But it wasn’t the traumas that he undoubtedly witnessed and took part in that he spoke of, rather it was the relationships he focused on. He spoke of the woman he met in Italy that we learned was a love of his. He spoke of the men that he fought alongside with.

My grandfather’s life was without a doubt completely altered by his time spent at war.

What we are being asked to do is minuscule by comparison.

We can do this. We can all make these sacrifices to protect the greater good. We can mourn what we have lost, we can remind ourselves of the small wins and we can band together and get through this.

Then fingers crossed, before we know it, we will somehow move on with our lives.

Article Author Natalie Romero
Natalie Romero

Read more from Natalie here.

Natalie’s passion for writing was reignited as she blogged her way through the pain of her son’s health issues and NICU stay. She is the wife of the world’s greatest foot rubber and mother to an amazingly loyal little boy and a fiercely independent little girl. An HR professional by day and a freelance writer and blogger by night, Natalie is getting a crash course in the juggling act that is the life of a working mother, though she does occasionally drop a ball or two! After spending much of her life trying to be perfect she has learned to rock her shortcomings and is not afraid to admit when she’s failed. This parenting thing can be tough and Natalie believes the best way to survive it is by keeping it real and by leaning on your tribe.

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