This week we will witness 11/11/11, which is particularly auspicious as it is also Remembrance Day in Canada and the United Kingdom. Ceremonies to remember those who served in the two world wars, traditionally begin at 11:00 am to mark the signing of the Armistice (the end of the First World War) at 11:00 am, 11 November 1918.
My grandfather served in World War I and my father in World War II. They were not decorated servicemen, but bravely endured the horror that is war. Both returned home, but my grandfather lost a leg, a crushing blow for a young man, who had won long distance running trophies in his youth. Luckily, my father returned home unharmed.
This year, I had the opportunity to read about my father’s war experiences. My sister found letters he had written to my mother and thoughtfully made a book of them for me. My parents married just a few months before my father’s departure for England and Europe. These letters chronicled the four years they spent apart during the war. They express his innermost thoughts about the war, my mother and his hopes for their future. As children, we don’t think of our parents as young lovers and newlyweds and I was touched by my father’s love and concern for her. Although, he was not permitted to provide any details of where his unit was at any given time or the conditions they endured, you knew that it had to be grim, even at the best of times. He lost men under his command and some very good friends. My mother spent four years wondering if she would ever see her husband again. Her situation was made worse by the fact that most of her girlfriends’ husbands and boyfriends were not allowed to enlist due to health problems, so she felt even more alone. For all its horror, the war did bring servicemen together and forged friendships and bonds that would last a lifetime. My father attended his annual Highland Light Infantry reunions, until he died in 1999.
So this year, at the 11th hour, on the 11th day, of the 11th month, of the 2011th year, we will be thinking of the sacrifices that men and women, like my mother and father made to ensure the freedom we enjoy today in Canada, the US, the UK, Australia and New Zealand. Lest we forget….
Until next time,
Your Boomer Life Partners