I have always been very moved by Remembrance Day.
From stories of war time - including the day to day lives of those on the home front - to cenotaphs and wreaths laid by our vets. From flybys to the haunting "Last Post" and the moment of silence. From food stamps, to shortages and chocolate bars at Christmas. Packages made and sent abroad. Stories that have become my own.
We all went to the cenotaph as a family during the 1960s in Montreal. Bitter cold already in November, snow flakes made a lazy swirl here and there. We stamped our feet to stay warm but still stood respectfully. Aware of the sober occasion and in awe of the ranks of men and women in full uniform, shoulder to shoulder - medals glinting in the winter mid day sun. The silence. The wreathes. As they wore their best, so did we.
No matter where I happen to be I take notice of memorials and statues of the fallen. In Europe, I took a few pictures of these, but perhaps the most moving tribute I was fortunate enough to see was the huge ceramic poppy art installation at the Tower of London last September. Each poppy unique, each one standing upright in remembrance of every fallen soldier in the Great War - the War to End All Wars. The crimson that spilled upon the grounds of the Tower stopped us in our tracks - it was beautiful to behold on an artistic level, yet it was such a powerful image of loss. The end of the Age of Innocence, the "lost generation" - the flower of youth.
Taking the train to Paris, my first time on the Eurostar, I watched the changing landscape rush past. It was mostly an industrial sight of cement barriers but I caught a glimpse of a tiny plot of white crosses in the middle of a field. Just a quiet moment, yet clear in the blur of speed. With that impression I knew I was in France.
Although we observe Remembrance Day at the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month, we are really ever mindful and grateful for the sacrifices of our veterans - of those past and of those in present times.
For our veterans all over the world.
Lest we forget.