Sunday, 11 November 2012

The small miracle of the list

I can't remember.

I wasn't there.

For those of us born in the generation after World War II, the best we can do is actively listen to the stories, and try to imagine how it felt. But is it even possible to imagine the horrors of war, or the agony of waiting at home? I've never been personally touched by it. My Dad wasn't in active service, and although some of my uncles were, I was never close enough to them to hear their stories. They all came home, and lived fulfilled lives. I grew up with the Viet Nam war, but didn't understand the issues or know anyone who went. I am blessed every day by the freedom that those who fought purchased for me, many with their lives, and I am thankful.

But remembering was difficult.

Something that happened this week changed that.

I was standing waiting for the slowest elevator in the building, and glanced at the bulletin board beside it. Two papers were posted, listing residents who are veterans, and giving others who may have been missed a chance to sign up. All the names will be read and honoured during the Remembrance Day service. Several columns identified whether they were army, navy, air force or merchant marine, and whether they were veterans or veterans' wives. I scanned the names, and began to reflect on how many of the names I know.

People I know.

Mary and Charles and Bruce and Alan. Dorothy and Claire and Brian. Men and woman who fought and served when they were younger than my youngest child. Who walked willingly into unspeakable situations for me. Who waited in agony at home for letters which came only sporatically, and were weeks old and filled with holes when they finally arrived. Men and women who lost brothers and fathers and friends because they believed it was important  to keep our country safe. To keep me safe.

The names on this list are people I talk with every day. They are men and women who gave a portion of their young lives to serve me, and now I have the incredible priviledge to serve them.

Then I knew. I remember. Thank you.

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