Lest we forget ~
Tomorrow at the 11th hour of the 11th day in this the 11th month, Canada 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.
I have posted this page in years past on this date. Since there are many new followers of my website, I want 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.
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.
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.
Sadly, they did not arrive.
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.
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.
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 just as easily.
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 that part of France.
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?
Roger Stowell says
Lovely, moving piece, Patricia. Thank you for that. Hope you are safe and well in this miserable pandemic which I pray will soon be over.
Patricia Sands says
Many thanks for stopping by, Roger. I’m afraid my blog is quite neglected these days but I do always want to share this message. I’m pleased to say my family is well and I’m always happy to see the same for you on your fabulous IG page.
Pamela Allegretto says
This is a lovely post. Thank you. Take care.