The bus arrived at the front door to take residents from the Manor to the cenotaph ceremony. There were only a few gathered, as it was frighteningly cold outside, and the ice had made the streets and sidewalks very slippery. Hazel had chosen to stay in. She wasn’t feeling the greatest and the weather was a major deterrent.
Charlie, on the other hand, was bundled up with extra layers. As a son of an RAF Airman that served in war, he rarely missed a Remembrance Day ceremony. While the freezing cold would certainly not be a pleasant experience, he did think of all the men he saw in the hospitals as a child with burns, missing limbs and other issues as a result of serving. Going and paying his respects was the least he could do.
The bus ride to the Beverly area, where the oldest cenotaph in the city stood, was a quiet one. Nobody said much until the bus pulled up to the park. People were already gathered…about 2,000, which was much less than usual but certainly a good turnout considering the cold.
Charlie was a little surprised to see the lack of older men in uniform. He supposed it was due to the fact that very few WWII veterans remained. The older veterans became fewer and fewer each year, but at the same time, there were more and more younger men in uniform – men who had served in peace keeping missions and conflicts in the Middle East. They were different wars for sure. There was no longer a common enemy like in the great wars. Men were serving all over the world in attempt to stabilize things that never seemed to rest. It was disheartening to say the least.
The ceremony began with O Canada. Charlie thought about all the controversy nowadays over national anthems. There was too much controversy nowadays, in Charlie’s opinion. Nothing seemed straightforward. The wind was nipping at his legs through his pants, and he felt the cold drying out his cheeks. But he stood and listened, thinking about many things while feeling gratitude for those that served so that we can continue to live safely in Canada.
After the ceremony he made his way back to the bus. He stopped to shake hands with the men in uniform and thank them for their service. There was a look in their eyes that spoke of things that could not be said, almost as though they had left something where they had been. He watched as one of the servicemen lifted up his daughter to see over the crowd. She giggled with delight and the sorrow in the man’s eyes left for a second as he smiled up at the young girl. Charlie could tell they had not been together for some time.
As much as things change, so many things remain the same.
This Remembrance Day, we give thanks to all who have served that enables our seniors to have choice and to live a life of purpose wherein they are honoured, valued and respected.
For those who leave never to return and for those who return but are never the same, ‘We Remember’.