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Remembrance Day memory (1 viewing) (1) Guest
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TOPIC: Remembrance Day memory
Remembrance Day memory 4 Years, 3 Months ago  
About 25 years ago today I was skipping my university classes. I’d informed my professors that I wouldn’t be in class that day. I’d done this each year, cut class on the 11th of November. The night before I had been polishing buttons, carefully applying white shoe polish to piping and spats, polishing the dress oxfords. Shampooing and combing out the horsehair sporran, before carefully packing it all into a plastic garment bag.

I took the Metro down to the amoury on de Bleury, put on my uniform gave it and my buddies’ uniforms a last check before forming up with the rest of the honor guard. Most were students like me, also cutting class, to perform the solemn annual ritual. Also forming up were a group of old men most in their 60s and beyond. Though they wore blue blazers and grey slack instead of our rifle green coatees and dark kilts, but they wore the blue Balmoral with the red hackle like the rest of us. For me this parade was about honouring the memory of those who gave their lives in war. But those dead were at most names inscribed on a wall or cenotaph somewhere. Something I didn't really realize was that for those old men forming up across the parade square from me that morning it was personal.

We marched from the armoury to Dominion Square in full dress uniforms in the dead of a Montreal winter. We stood at attention as the wreaths were laid, and at ease as the speeches were made. It was cold, the wind swirls up under your kilt, but the works was that spot where the kilt runs across your kneecaps, for some reason that just burns with cold. The ceremonies complete, we marched back to the armoury and after being dismissed headed down to the Junior Ranks Club for a few beers.

Somehow I ended up standing at the bar, beer in hand with one of those old men. I will never know why he chose me, maybe it was the beer, maybe in my uniform I reminded him of himself or someone he had known years ago. I don’t know, I don’t even remember his name. But I do remember his story. I remember him telling it as if I'd heard it yesterday.

On a summer day in 1944 he formed up with his platoon not far from a river, behind the grandstands of a racetrack. Each section had an assault boat that they were to carry at a run down to the river bank, launch into the water, paddle across and assault the German position on the opposite bank. As soon as the assault group was in the open the German machine guns and mortars opened up. He held on to the boat and ran, ran all the way to the water. When he turned to get in the boat there was no one else holding on to it. How far he hand carried the boat alone he couldn’t recall. And then he looked around and realized there were no other boats had made it to the water’s edge. Of the 30 or so men, men he had trained with, lived with, ate with, fought with, cursed the drill sergeant with, men who were his closest friends, of the 30 that started out he was the only one there. He walked back to the Company HQ and told them, the OC sent him up to Battalion with the news. The CO took his message and then said “You’re a runner now.” Tasking him with carry messages to and from HQ. There was a war on and there wasn’t time to stop and grieve. Not even if you had just lost everyone you knew in a few minutes. To this day I can still remember the look in his eyes. The one that questioned why he made it and his friends did not, the one that asked “what made me worthy?”.

When I pause to remember those who died, I remember this man’s story. I remember that each one of those deaths is personal to someone. That each maple leaf inscribed headstone stands over what remains someone’s friend, lover, child or parent. And I remember that some who came home gave all as well, that they quietly carry their wounds and losses with them throughout the rest of their lives.
gregory.m.kirk (User)
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Re:Remembrance Day memory 4 Years, 3 Months ago  
What a lovely Memory to share - when we share what the Vets talk about, when we say their names out loud, for that moment they are with us! Rick and I have met many of those Vets older than us and never tire of hearing their stories -or of seeing that they are still around to march with us on the Hill in Ottawa. It is always a humbling experience. Thank you for sharing this and thank you for saying this so very well!
Sherry BW (User)
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Sherry Duplessis
Nemo Me Impune Lacessit
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Re:Remembrance Day memory 4 Years, 3 Months ago  
Thank you for sharing such a moving story.
jennifer.mathison (User)
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Re:Remembrance Day memory 4 Years, 1 Month ago  
We are the old guys now. Been on a few parades myself.
woody (User)
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Gender: Male Woody Location: Bowmanville Ontario Birthdate: 1942-09-23
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