As I try to write this, I have rewritten the start many times. Remembrance day means many things to different people. During school, sometimes we had a special service just before 11am and then the one minute of silence. In some schools we only had the silence at 11am. I moved around a lot as a kid even though we were not a military family. As I reflect back I do not think I really understood.
I joined the military when I was 16. Remembrance day became parades and the fact that Canada was still a peacekeeping nation meant it still did not have a serious impact on me, but I did obviously understand why we remembered.
“If we do not learn from our mistakes we are destined to repeat them.” I do not remember who said it, but it still rings true.
When I was stationed in Germany for 5 years I did go visit the Allied Forces Cemeteries in Normandy. We were looking for a specific grave which we did find. They are incredibly beautiful and well taken care of. And yes it is a breath taking moment.
I was prompted to go and visit the Normandy sites while we were there – given it has been 100 years, but that will have to wait awhile. Magpie will learn but as to visiting the sites, we will wait and see. Not this year anyway.
Both the Gulf and Bosnian war happened while I was in Germany. Life changes. Coming back to Canada and then going to Bosnia during the end of the war – when we were peacekeeping but the two sides did not get that memo. Our hands were tied as peacekeepers due to bureaucrats. Life really changes.
I understand why Britain has a big Veterans for Peace group, which is supported by many other countries. I hear the nonsense over poppies in Canada and shake my head. A poppy is a poppy. How and who makes it should not be an issue. It is a symbol.
That is why it was such a pleasure to experience Remembrance Day here in Bristol and Bath. I do not feel comfortable going to the official ceremonies anymore – not out of disrespect, by any means. I have lost much and know what others have lost too.
Needless to say we watched so many people, all ages walking to the local cenotaph, all proper, many uniforms, old and new, with poppies in all different designs. That was just waiting for a bus to Bath.
In Bath, Magpie noticed the hand crotchet/knitted poppies, and the poppies on cars. He noticed that the christmas decorations were up but not turned on. We watched a procession going into the church. Magpie wants me to make a knitted poppy. Will I? Probably, if I can find a pattern, but should I tell him that his country has issues over whether he can wear it? Hopefully people will have gotten past that nonsense and remember what Remembrance Day is truly about.
I think the Tower of London poppy display was a splendid idea. Why? Well, can you visualize 888,246? It is hard for anyone to put that in prospective without actually physically seeing, especially kids. Magpie was astounded when we saw the Tower of London -which was before all the poppies were placed. Again it was a take your breath away moment.