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 had 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.
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.
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 pride. We are proud of you and very 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.
No matter what our country, our 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. Here’s an explanation of how the poppy came to be such a strong symbol of remembrance, from the Canoe.ca website.