Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Remembrance Day, Poppy Day, Armistice Day

I don't care what you call it - just remember it. 
We had a visitor yesterday. He is a former member of the Royal Australian Air Force. He flew planes in another lifetime. He has a different role now - a helping role.
I like him and respect him. Yesterday I respected him a little more. He took his wife and young daughter to Europe this year. They went and looked at a lot of the usual tourist things. And they went and did something else, something he had wanted to do for a long time. 
They went to France and, very early one morning, before anyone else was around they went off to one of the many war cemeteries. As the sun came up, they stood quietly and paid respect to those who are buried there.
He told us about the experience yesterday - and his voice cracked as he spoke about it. It was obviously an intensely moving experience for him. Imagine it. Imagine a quiet, still morning in a foreign country surrounded by the many graves of people who died fighting a war you didn't experience but one which has affected your entire life. It is hard to comprehend.
It is something I would like to do one day. I don't want to go on one of those guided tours. I want to go alone - because, in a way, all those buried there were alone too.
I'll likely be in our local library at eleven o'clock this morning. The staff will stop. They will remind those in the library to stop. There will be a reminder in other places. One year I was in a shop. The assistant was about to serve me and a bell sounded. We stopped. She started to apologise for keeping me waiting afterwards and I said "No. Please never apologise for remembering."
Some people will just go on with their lives as if there is nothing to remember. That is up to them - but I believe their lives are a little less rich because of it. 
I'll remember. I'll imagine myself standing in the quiet of a cemetery in a far distant country and I'll try to remember how very different it was for those who are buried there. 

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