For the first time in 15 years I am not in North America for Remembrance Day. Nonetheless I have been wearing my poppy all week, and several people have asked me about it – at work, at the community event at Microsoft, at my hotel, in stores and restaurants. In my broken Spanish I have explained to each person who asks that today, la once dia dela once mes – the eleventh day of the eleventh month – we remember the soldiers who have put their lives on hold to don their country’s uniform and fought to liberate, fought to defend, fought to protect. I explain that in Canada we wear the poppy from November 1st to commemorate; those who never served wear it and show solidarity with those who did; those who did serve wear it to remember their fallen comrades… and maybe a little more.
On this Remembrance Day I remember my friends… those who dies, and those who lived, who served with me even though this is not the day we remember soldiers in the country where I served. I remember them today as I remember them every day – brave children who were forced (as was I) to grow up way to fast. At an age where kids should be going off to college, joining fraternities, dating (and talking about) girls we spent months training to defend… to protect. I never learned how to rebuild a carburetor but I was taught how to field-strip an assault rifle, in the mud, in the dark. We learned skills and lessons that I am sure many of us find useful in every day life – about loyalty and friendship and leadership and professionalism – and we learned lessons that most of us I am sure would rather forget.
We met people who would be our best friends for life. Some of them died.
In Flanders Field the poppies grow
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 Dear. 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,
We the living must never forget those who died, those who served, nor what it is they served for. Thank a Soldier, Sailor, Marine, Guard, Airman today and every day by appreciating the freedoms that we have that others tried to take from us.
There are no G-d given rights; every right we have was given to us by a soldier who took it from someone who did not want us to have it. NEVER FORGET.