In 2000, I was in 5th grade. In November of that year, we were tasked with memorizing the poem In Flanders Fields by John McCrae. On Remembrance Day, each one of us faced the class and recited the poem.
All these years later, I remember the words.
Today stirs up a lot of feelings. My dad joined the Canadian Armed Forces when he was 18. He was inspired by his own father’s service; he wanted to help people and make the world a better place.
So I grew up on military bases around Canada. I knew my dad had a very important job. His job took him away from us for months at a time. As I got older, I would hold back tears during the schools’ Remembrance Day ceremonies. I thought of the times he was in war zones; the times he came back but some his friends and colleagues didn’t.
I remember when he was overseas in Afghanistan. I would hardly breathe when the news came on TV, waiting to see if his name and photo would flash across the screen.
The first time I saw my dad cry was when he said goodbye to us before his second tour. I was a teenager, and I did my best to hold it together for my parents.
He is retired now. I know that as a combat engineer and EOD specialist, he saw and experienced some (or a lot of) very bad things. He doesn’t talk about it.
So on Remembrance Day, I am thankful to all soldiers for their service. I hate that they experienced so many awful things; I hate war. All of the senseless death and destruction makes me physically ill. I hate that war is so often viewed as necessary.
We can do better.