Every year since I was old enough to pay attention, I’ve watched the national act of remembrance on CBC. I’ve also marched in the town parade as a Brownie and Girl Guide, and played in the high school band for services. But it’s the national service that has always hit home for me.
Today, I stood in my living room as the national anthem began. At the first notes, the tears started rolling down my cheeks, as they always do. I stood and sang out loud, in English and French. And the tears continued, through the Last Post, From the Fallen, the Reveille, to the laying of the wreaths. Through a mother’s grief, the thanks of our youth, and the memories in the eyes of our veterans.
I cry because I don’t think I would have the courage to do what so many have done for me.
Oh, I wouldn’t sit idly by. I’d dive head first into some kind of wartime support, and I don’t mean to diminish the importance of those supporting roles. But to rush into battle, overcoming every ounce of a human being’s survival instinct to run from danger and, instead, run straight into it – I don’t think I could do it.
I don’t have any relatives who fought overseas with me in mind. I didn’t grow up with first-hand stories from a grandfather who fought for my freedom. So the thought that so many strangers did this for me – there isn’t anything more humbling.
They did it for the future of not only their families and friends, but of everyone in their country. They did it because it was the right thing to do.
All I can do is be deeply thankful, not take this hard-won freedom for granted, and always remember.
And someday, I won’t be watching on CBC. I’ll be in Ottawa to lay my poppy and pay my respects at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.