Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Imperfect Remembrance

The bugler's Last Post signals our silence while Reveille awakens us to our responsibilities. Canadians across the land will be attending Remembrance Day services this morning. Or have done so already in church or at some cenotaph services held on Sunday.

An elder veteran (86 yrs) at my church stood up to remind us of one mistake we've made all these years. He said "our memory is imperfect, as is our remembrance."

Coming from a man who has given so much in the way of leadership and philanthropy to my community and has never spoken of the war or its affect on him, the words are poignant beyond compare.

Paraphrasing, he said "Every year, we pay our respects to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. The symbols of war are about honour, bravery and courage. We forget that many came home. Broken and wounded, some with scars that were visible, yet many with scars that were hidden."

"Their lifetime of suffering has no symbol in our Remembrance Day services. Nor does the lifetime of suffering in their families. I stand here to tell you this now having never spoken of this anguish before."

"Listen now - life after war is also a misery - the soldiers who return are not whole. My father served in the first war, I served in the second. We came home physically whole but the darkness in our spirits is evident in the pain we suffered and the pain we inflicted through every day of our lives."

"Remember this now, for the soldiers who return home to us from Afghanistan will need us now more than ever. Help them, truly help them and their families. Demand that they be helped. This is our duty now. Remember those who fell and help those who return."

Remember those who fell, but cherish and care for those who return. We asked them to act on our behalf, now it is our turn.


jem said...

Good for him; so many vets refuse to speak at all. Injured vets often feel hard done by not only by we peace-loving citizens but by Veterans Affairs. Even now the Globe is reporting on an Afghan vet who lost his legs who is having trouble getting home modifications in a timely way. Sheesh.

Deb Prothero said...

I was just reading this piece from Common Dreams on the state of homelessness among vets.


Granted the story is American but I wonder how well we do on this.

Deb Prothero said...

Oh dear, I regret to update this article from November 2008 to report that this wise and kind war veteran has passed away. His contribution to our community was incredible. Hopefully he now realizes the peace he sought and is joined with his loving wife once again.