Saying grace

Posted by Ken Campbell November 11, 2012 0 Comment 1137 views
This day has a lot of names… I don’t remember when exactly, in my frame of reference, it changed from  Armistice Day to Remembrance Day to Veteran’s Day… I am a product of a Scottish father and many different addresses in one country and another before my 10th birthday. There are different words for the same thing, depending on where you are and who you’re talking to.
Here in the US of A, we don’t wear poppies in the lapels of our jackets. (We don’t even wear jackets, but that’s another story.) I do remember the old guys selling them out front of the Sobeys store at the mall when I was a lad in St. John’s, back when I never thought I’d ever wear a uniform, before I had any concept of actually growing old myself. 
And then, as a result of the twists of fate and the roads less travelled, I did end up in a uniform, in places as pleasant as Australia, Singapore and Brunei and as vile as Iraq and Somalia. I stared wide-eyed and dopey out the port-side window at the oil well fires of Kuwait, listening to the reports of “missile lock” on the headset with my thumb on the flare button. I saw huge convoys of aircraft in the Saudi sky, fighters mostly, with some bigger birds, heading north to do their damage. I sat on piles of chains in darkened cargo compartments, protecting my ass (the only one I have), against stray shots of small arms fire from people I would never meet, but who hated me enough to kill me.
Even then, I wondered how the other side lived. And died. It’s hard to justify any of it in my mind now, but maybe I’m just getting old and soft. Maybe I don’t rise to the fight the way I used to do. It doesn’t matter.
November 11th is the anniversary of the end of the “war to end all wars.” (Christ, were we ever really that naive?) Beyond that, it’s the day we remember those who have put on the uniform, who have literally wrapped themselves in the flag of their country and gone to the fields of honor and pain to defend something that can’t be seen, touched or tasted. If you’ve been there, you may know what I’m talking about… or you may just want to forget about it, to move on. If you haven’t been there, I fear much of this may sound like gibberish. 
Either way, take a moment today, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, and remember whatever you can. Reflect in the best way you know how, about those who have come before and the things they have done so that you can be where you are. It’s the very least you can do.

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