My Dad shipped overseas from Halifax, Nova Scotia, in or around, 1940 to serve in the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF). I’m not even sure he was yet 20 years old. He was a farm kid who did what he thought was right.
For me, his service history is scant because he didn’t want to talk about it. I know he served in England and in Denmark.
I didn’t come along until many years later. I had no idea about war.
At the top of the stairs there was an old dresser full of “stuff”. I don’t ever remember being told to stay out of it which was a good thing because we spread stuff from one side of the floor to the other. It was Dad’s war-time stuff.
We’d look at the groups of young men who stood casually–or perhaps that was the cool way to lounge-stand in the day– The pictures were black and white with scalloped edges. The guys sometimes draped their arms across their friends shoulder or wore their uniform cap pushed way up on their head.
All so handsome.
All so young.
Us kids asked Dad who these guys were and he never answered… didn’t want to talk about it, he said. So then we’d bring down medals, foreign money, and scraps of cloth. We received the same response.
It’s my understanding now that when it was announced that the war was over, many of the young men tore epitaphs off their jackets and gave them away as souvenirs, but really, I have no idea where Dad’s “treasures” came from.
The stories of World War 2 are beginning to fade in the memory as time passes but we know that if a lesson is not learned then it will be repeated.
Right now, there’s so much divisiveness, denial, and abhorrent behavior happening close enough to home, we don’t need to go far to see the racism, discrimination, and exclusivity. Everyone should be afraid of a future filled with those things.
In Canada, we have a history of genocide that is just now beginning to see more light. Many young Indigenous people served in WW2 and are still represented within the Canadian Armed Forces. This acknowledgment is important for the continued web of understanding and healing of the past.
Lest We Forget.
Wherever you may be today, please take a moment at 11am (the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month)… to remember. Think of your grandfathers, uncles, fathers, neighbors, friends… Know that Veterans are those who serve the community and country. It includes the Canadian Armed Forces, RCMP, Peace Officer, Merchant Navy or Ferry Operator in war-time
They fought for the freedoms we now embrace and enjoy today and many paid the ultimate sacrifice.
Thanks for reading.