A reflection on Remembrance Day.
Earlier this year our family went on a D-Day Tour of Normandy and it was one of the most moving experiences that we have ever had while traveling. Every year at school my kids take part in Remembrance Day ceremonies but, standing among those graves at the Canadian War Cemetery, I think they finally understood what November 11th is all about.
We stood on Juno Beach in a dense fog and reflected on what it must have been like for the Canadian soldiers sailing toward land, ready to face battle and not knowing whether they would live to see another day.
We visited the Juno Beach Centre to learn more about what life was like prior to the war, the events of WWII, the military role of Canadians and war efforts at home.
We paid our respects and shed a few tears at the Canadian War Cemetery where row upon row of grave markers illustrated the magnitude of the loss. So many of the fallen not much older than my own teenage daughter.
This year when my daughters hear the words of John McRae’s famous poem, they will have a deeper understanding of what it is that we are remembering and why we must never forget.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
– John McCrae
beautiful written. We must indeed never forget and hope it will not happen ever again.
Thank you, Freya!
It is difficult to prepare yourself emotionally when you visit such places. We just returned from visiting a WWII memorial in the Phillippines where there were 17,201 graves and a list of over 36,000 MIAs. What a sacrifice these brave men made during that war. I am so thankful for our veterans.
That is so true, Amy – visiting the Canadian War Cemetery tore me apart. When I starting reading the ages on the gravestones and realizing that so many of them were just a couple of years older than Katie, I couldn’t help but imagine that if this was happening now that her guy friends would be going off to war – that’s such a devastating thought! It’s staggering the numbers who were killed in so many parts of the world – I don’t think I realized that there were that many who died in the Philippines as well.
There is nothing like visiting a site to drive home the importance of the sacrifice many people made.
It takes on a new meaning when you have kids who start to understdand about Lest we Forget.
The poem is special.
You are right. I also look at the ages of the young men. It’s overwhelming.
Wow, what a beautiful way to remember. Ours aren’t old enough to “get it” yet…I can only imagine. But you brought some reverence to my day.
That’s so true, Katja, for adults as much as kids. We can read and read about the casualties of war but when you’re standing there looking at the gravestones it really hits home.
I would like to dedicate this poem to our Indigenous Anzacs in light of the Anzac Centenary – Which also adds another dimension to Lest We Forget
HOW DID WE FORGET
They fought for our country
They fought for their land
These brave forgotten few
Fought time…. and time…. again
Through all of the various wars
We have continued to forget
All of their names and families
With no apparent regret
They have maintained their dignity
They have maintained their respect
All they ever wanted us to do
Was to never forget
Their pains and passions
Towards a country they love
We acknowledge their commitment and dedication
And salute their spirits above
Thank you for protecting our great Australia
The one that we champion for mateship and pride
We will never forget …our Indigenous Anzacs…GJK