Lest We Forget ~ November 11, 2017

Remembrance Day ~ Canada

Tomorrow at the 11th hour of the 11th day in this the 11th month, our country will pause for two minutes’ silence to remember those  heroes who have given their lives and in respect of all who offer their service … in every country. 

We owe so much to so many.

1452417_430285330427581_1903646163_n

I have posted this page in years past on this date. Since there are many new followers of my website, I wanted to share it again for those who haven’t seen it. For others, I hope you don’t mind the repetition. I feel these stories can never be shared too often.

In 2010, my husband and I went on a journey to locate the grave of my Uncle Harry whose Lancaster bomber had been shot down on June 13, 1944, near Cambrai, France. All six crew members  perished.

dsc06602

We discovered they are buried in a small Allied cemetery in the middle of farmland rather than in one of the major cemeteries in France.

It was quite an experience just finding it, but that’s a story for another day. When I inquired as to why they were in that location, the Office of Military Affairs explained that they had been buried there by the nearby villagers at the time and so would remain close to where they had died. The cemetery was immaculately tended … and watched over by curious cows.

France-PSandsPhotos

Coincidentally, just a week before our visit, another relative of one of the crew had visited the cemetery. He left a note in the guest book (found in metal boxes at every cemetery) that gave us some personal information about the day these men died. They had been on a bombing raid over the rail yards in Cambrai. The war was being won. The men were heading back to their base in England to make it in time for the local dance that evening.

Learning this small piece of personal information, made our visit that much more emotional and intimate.

As a child, I had always been intrigued by stories about my Uncle Harry, the youngest of 5 boys, and only 20 years old when he died. There were framed photos of him in his uniform with a dazzling smile in my parents’ and grandparents’ homes. You could feel his pride. And theirs.

When we went on our mission to ‘find Uncle Harry’, we also spent a few days in Normandy and did the tours of the WW2 landing beaches, something I recommend to everyone who has the opportunity.

It’s an emotional experience as the history of the war becomes vividly presented by guides who must take courses in this information and pass exams before receiving a license to guide. The French take the preservation of this history very seriously and are to be commended for doing so.

DSC06954

As we toured the museums and memorial centres, it struck me that in so many of the photographs of men and women in service for their country, pride was stirringly evident in their expressions. It seems to go with the wearing of the uniform and the understanding of what that represents.

Thank you to every one of the members of armed services – past and present – for putting yourself in danger for your country and taking on that onerous task with such commitment. We are proud of you and eternally grateful.

Thank you, Uncle Harry.

Normandy 2010

Wear your poppy proudly. Please make certain to preserve and keep alive the stories of the members of your families who have served in the armed forces. Always remember. In doing some research, I discovered this excellent video. It only pertains to the American cemeteries but could be talking about all of the Allied burial grounds.

Normandy

No matter what our country, hearts are touched by the selfless giving of all who serve. The museums and preserved landing beaches of Normandy offer an emotional lesson in history to all who have the good fortune to visit there.

Most Canadians proudly wear a poppy for a week or so before November 11th to show their respect for veterans. Click here for an  excellent explanation of how the poppy came to be such a strong symbol of remembrance.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. Have you preserved stories of your family’s service?

About Patricia Sands

Family, writing and travel are my passions … okay, and chocolate … and I’m seldom without a camera. I write women’s fiction and keep in touch with readers by a monthly newsletter that also has giveaways and contests. Come and join us by signing up on the right. See you there!

Comments

  1. November 11th is my sister’s birthday so we’ll be celebrating and remembering. My dad served in the Air Force and contracted Rheumatic Fever. He was quarantined for most of his time, so he never considered himself a veteran. When asked if I had a veteran in my family, I never stood. It was downplayed. He died of heart disease related to that damage.

    • Patricia Sands says:

      That’s so interesting, Susie. Yet, just the fact that your father had the desire to serve is so meaningful. What a shame that he was so affected by the illness.
      Enjoy celebrating your sister’s birthday and I’m sure you will have more than one meaningful toast, celebrating and remembering.

  2. A wonderful post. I visited a Canadian War Memorial Cemetary in Holland and was overcome with emotion, even though I didn’t know of anyone there. You will find this interesting, I’m about 30% into my 7th Amanda travels book which takes place in Holland. (Amanda in Holland – Missing in Action.) Amanda tries to find out what happened to a great uncle, named Harold, who never returned from the war!

    • Patricia Sands says:

      I hear you, Darlene. I don’t think it is possible to visit the memorial cemeteries without being overcome with emotion. It’s quite a powerful experience.

      What a funny coincidence in your story! Thanks for sharing that and congratulations on working on your 7th Amanda book! Wow!

  3. As a patriotic American, I’m happy to support Canadian patriotism. God bless all patriots in both countries.

    • Patricia Sands says:

      Absolutely, David. They deserve our respect as well as being remembered forever. In whatever country they serve, they are owed so much. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Thank you Patricia for sharing this touching story of your Uncle Harry. We will wear a Poppy today in honour of all who served their countries.

    As an Australian I understand your feelings and we are grateful to the many men and women from different nationalities who played a role by giving their lives on behalf of their nations committed to non racial subjugation, democracy, freedom and world peace.
    This unconditional gift is cherished by us all today who are here to remember them.
    My husband and I went to Caen in Normandy and participated in the visual experience of the 180 km of the D-Day beaches and learned about the history of the Allies victory.
    What an unforgettable journey and I agree with you. Patricia, to encourage all to visit this region to understand the challenges faced by those who gave their lives.
    best, Nicole

    • Patricia Sands says:

      Thanks so much for your comments, Nicole. I’m not surprised to know that you and your husband have included this experience in your extensive travels in France. It’s simply that important!

  5. A terrific post Patricia #LestweForget

    • Patricia Sands says:

      Thanks, Carolyne. You know so well how France goes the extra mile to ensure this service and history is not forgotten.

  6. Good stuff.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

  7. Patricia, lovely post. Thank you especially for providing the link to the video. It was very educational.

  8. Caroline Polcsak says:

    Please accept my humble condolences to you, Patricia, your family and to all who have experienced the loss of someone due to the flag. A heartfelt thank you to military-friendly businesses that aid war veterans….I send a vibrant sunny bouquet of thanks (attached with a prayer for continued strength) to all the wounded.

    • Patricia Sands says:

      Thank you, Caroline, for your vibrant sunny bouquet! So many families have suffered losses in these terrible wars that never seem to end.

  9. Mary Ann Hartwell says:

    Thanks so much for sharing, Patricia. I would have taken that journey too to visit Uncle Henry, how moving.

    • Patricia Sands says:

      Yes, Mary Ann, I believe you would have. We were happy to finally find him and make certain he is never forgotten.

  10. Moving story about your uncle, Patricia. As a French native I thank him and all the people who help liberate my country. I grew up surrounded by many cemeteries such as the one you visited. It’s only when I was older that I understood the sacrifice. And years later, when I met men who had fought in France during WWII I truly realized how hard it must have been for them to leave their native land for mine. But when I expressed these thoughts they all agreed that it was no hesitation for them. They just had to fight.
    So whether Veteran Day in the U.S., Remembrance Day in Canada or the celebration of the end of WWI in France, November 11 is an important day.

    • Patricia Sands says:

      Dear Evelyne, you have written touching words before about the history that your family has lived through in past generations. It was through our stay in Normandy that we truly learned of which you speak. Those two world wars were the most important times in our recent history and the meaning and lessons must always be passed on along.

  11. Very meaningful and important post. Thanks for sharing this.

  12. Thanks for sharing your journey and the story of your Uncle Harry. It’s so touching.

I love hearing from you ~ thanks for stopping by

*