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Wednesday, 10 November 2010
Tomorrow is Remembrance Day.

Growing up, I remember the chilling goosebumps raised by the trumpeter at Remembrance Day assemblies, and an opportunity to speak to veterans about their experiences as a Girl Guide. The poppies and the poems we wrote so earnestly.

As a young adult beginning ministry, I remember interacting with men (and a few women) in ministry who were veterans of the Second World War and realizing that in our midst, sitting in our pews and being called Grandpa and Grandma, were people who had experienced life changing terror and violence and then come home again to take up jobs and families as if life would ever be the same again.  That among our seniors, those gentle men and jokesters who dressed up with a placket of medals on their chests once a year, were people who had 'stormed the beaches at Normandy' or participated in the liberation of Holland and been pelted with candies by excited Dutch children as they came into town. This was a revelation.  That men who shot other men now took up the offering on Sunday morning in a jacket and tie.

In recent years, I have presided at funerals for men and women whose caskets bore Canadian flags and whose services of remembrance included marching on and off of the colours.  Of men and women whose life stories often glossed over those early experiences which had to have shaped them in ways we'll never know.  They belonged to a different generation.  They didn't talk about it.   I have buried men I have known for years who never spoke of the planes they flew or the mud through which they slogged.  Women who raised children alone with husbands overseas.

Tomorrow, as the padre for our local Royal Canadian Legion, I will once again join with vets (fewer every year, at least of the 'world wars' of the last century) and their children, with families whose prayers are with sons and daughters overseas today. And we will remember~ maybe not the experience of war, but certainly the faces of our loved ones that have known war, and we will be grateful.

And even more than all of this, as a mother, I will remember.
My daughter came to me on Thanksgiving Sunday with a gun in her hand for the first time (a plastic pistol) and she pointed it at me~ rather, she pointed the handle at me~ and she said "Mommy, I am going to gun you.".

I will remember and be thankful that my 5 year old daughter has only just picked up a toy gun and that she lives in a place in this world where she can have lived for 5 years without knowing the proper verb to associate with the act of pointing a gun at another person.  I know this is rare. And I know it is a blessing not to be taken for granted when children throughout this world, and right here at home understand all to well what a gun can do.

Remembrance Day is limited in its scope. People mourn the loss of its meaning.  And it is not enough, surely, in the face of war throughout this world right now. But it is enough to remind us and to keep us as human as possible.

They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.


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