My Father was a Wireless Operator/Rear Gunner in a Lancaster Bomber in the RCAF (Royal Canadian Air Force) in World War II. My Grandfather was an Infantryman with the Winnipeg Grenadiers in WWI. I wear the Poppy with pride. And I hate war.
I hate the need for war. And I question if there actually is a need. But I’m not the one living in a war-torn country. I’m not the one living in fear of my own countrymen. I simply don’t understand. But others do.
Both my father and my grandfather understood. They willingly put themselves in harms way for the belief that everyone deserves the right to live freely. That is something I believe it.
I didn’t know my grandfather. He came home after the war but he was filled with a need to see more. He traveled across Canada and took some of the most beautiful photographs. As an electrician by trade he was one of the people that installed the main chandelier in the lobby of the Banff Springs Hotel, one of Canada’s most iconic landmarks. I was there many years later. And I was touched when I looked up and saw it. My grandfather did that!
He eventually settled down and married and had two children. He was there in Winnipeg, Manitoba during The General Strike of 1919. “Our Cause is Just” was their battle cry. That strike helped to change the way workers were treated. He stood proudly again.
My father too survived his war. He came home and settled down. He met my mother just after he came back. Actually, she tells a story about how she was working in a high-rise office building and several Lancasters flew by quite low. They were in formation and evidently it was quite a sight to see. Years later my mother found out that she was actually looking at my father’s plane! The world moves in mysterious ways.
So today I am thinking of my father and of my grandfather. I weep a tear that they are gone. I am also thinking of all the other men and women fighting wars that I don’t understand. But I do understand loyalty and I understand compassion and duty.
The freedoms that we enjoy today are because of soldiers. They are on the front line to protect our democracy and our right to choose. I wish we didn’t have the need. I wish people from disparate backgrounds could learn to appreciate each other. We have so much we could learn from each other. We could learn not to hate. We could learn not to fight.
Today I stand proud as my father once did, as my grandfather did. We will pick up the torch from failing hands. It is our turn to hold it high and not break faith with those who sleep, though poppies grow in Flanders fields.