Remembrance Day/Veteran's Day is fast approaching. It was always a day that we cherished when I was a child growing up. We wore our beautiful red poppy pins on our coat lapels for a few weeks before the actual day, and, on the actual day, all participated in a parade that ended at the legion. More about the legion in a bit.
My elementary and junior high school was called John Bernard Croak, Victoria Cross Memorial school. You can read more about John Bernard Croak here. And I hope that you will. Although he was born in Newfoundland, an island near Cape Breton Island, his family moved to Cape Breton Island when he was two. He was raised in the same town I was raised. The legion in that home town is also named in his honour.
The Victoria Cross was the highest reward received from the British Commonwealth for "gallantry in the face of the enemy". Please read his story here. His Wikipedia entry is not very long, although I wish it was longer.
Several times during my 10yrs of service in the Canadian Forces I served cenotaph duty at several Remembrance Day ceremonies. Cenotaph duty requires the soldier to stand at attention, head pointing down, hands resting flat on the butt of your weapon, barrel resting on the toe of the boot. And you don't move or blink. And you stay that way for the entire ceremony - whether it is an hour long or three hours long. And it is not easy to stay in that position without wavering. And you cry. When you see WWI vets placing their wreathes, you cry. And when you peak out of the corner of your eye and see WWII vets placing their wreathes, you cry. And when you see vets from the Korean, Vietnamese, Somalia, Serbia-Croatia, Gulf War I, etc. lay their wreathes, you cry. And when you see family members of fallen comrades lay their wreathes, you cry. And when you peak at big, strong soldiers in the crowd crying, you cry. In fact, I think that must be what cenotaph duty is about.
Anyway, I will be posting several Remembrance Day posts over the next few days up to November 11. Remembrance Day was important as a child and it was important as a soldier. It is still important as a veteran. It is important to all Canadians.
To all of those serving, or who have served, we will never forget. To all of my Canadian comrades, both serving, have served, living or dead, I salute you.
I have a few American veterans who read this blog. And I would like to dedicate this post to them. For being such good friends. And for serving. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for your service.