As we remember Canada’s servicemen and women this Friday, November 11, each of us will have an individual, or a group of individuals, in our mind during the minute of silence that was started in the aftermath of the First World War.
The ceremony of Remembrance Day is a small token of our esteem and appreciation for the service given — and at times, the sacrifices made — by the people who wear the uniform and represent our country in times of conflict.
Without a doubt, those people willingly carry a heavy burden and for that they deserve to be recognized.
Yet in every conflict, there are those who are impacted by the fighting, the occupation or even just the absence of family members who are acting on behalf of their nation.
In the lead up to this year’s Remembrance Day coverage in the PNR, we were contacted by reader Brenda Harfield. She feels it’s important not to forget people like her. She was very young during the Second World War and remembers going to kindergarten in England, carrying her very own gas mask. They would go to class, not knowing if the bombs would be falling that day. If they were, they’d be hurried off to bomb shelters, where they would sing songs. She said she remembers feeling happy to see the planes heading back over the English Channel — no more bombs that day!
Within her own family, her husband — as a child in England — had his own school bombed. His brothers were part of the essential service of shipbuilding for the war effort.
Her point is that not all remembrance stories are about fighting on the front lines.
There are plenty of stories about people who stayed behind and did their bit to support the troops — or simply to help keep each other alive. Many others were only children during times of war, yet still carry with them the memories or traumas of those days.
Remembrance takes many forms and this Friday, each of us will take enough time to think of what has come before now, and what may come after. Either way, it’s the people affected by conflict that should be front and centre.