This is a video we watch every year, on Remembrance Day, since it was first released. A Pittance of Time, by Terry Kelly.
Also, there’s a memory I carry with me, every year. I wrote about it a few years ago, and include it here.
God bless all those who serve today, who served yesterday, those who are with us, and gone.
A Promise To Keep (last posted 2009)
According to my eldest daughter, my husband and I are weird. Nobody else’s parents insist that they attend Remembrance Day ceremonies, she protests. Be it on television, or in person, my husband and I insist that our family solemnly observe the day by attending ceremonies. For my husband, it’s a strongly held belief, bolstered by his grandfather having served in World War II. For myself, its something that I’ve always held to be sacred, believing that those that forget history are doomed to repeat it. It’s also about a promise I made, almost thirteen years ago now. Every year since, when observing the Ceremony, I remember back to that one Remembrance Day that ensured that as long as I live, I will attend, observe, and do my very best to instill in my children the importance of the day.
I was a single parent then, working, struggling to meet our day-to-day expenses while still ensuring that I was there for my son. It was a juggling act at best, and I was known at work for always being available for shifts, so when I went in and booked Remembrance Day off, it came as a shock to my supervisor. “It’s just Remembrance Day,” she protested. I couldn’t make her understand that it was something that I simply had to observe, to teach my child about. He was only three at the time, and to him, Mommy having a day off work was a novelty, and I found myself attempting to explain why Mommy had taken the day off.
It wasn’t easy, explaining to a 3-year-old about the purpose of the day. As we rode the bus that chilly November morning, I did my best to explain to him, in preschooler terms, what Remembrance Day was about. Explaining that our ‘good guys’ had to go to war and fight the ‘bad guys’ so that people could be safe. I felt like I was walking a tightrope between wanting my child to understand the sanctity of the day without frightening him or glorifying violence. Explaining why the ‘good guys’ used guns when he wasn’t allowed to play with them had me trying to explain ‘big bad vs little bad’ . I wondered if perhaps this had been a bad idea, if my child were too young to really understand, but on we went to the Cenotaph.
Standing on the sheltered bridge over the Cenotaph, watching the ceremony, my son’s questions continued. I answered him, noticing a Veteran watching us from the corner of his eye. I felt self-conscious, concerned that we were disrupting this gentleman’s observance of the service. I mouthed, “Sorry” to him, and thankfully, he smiled and nodded at me.
After the ceremony ended, I gathered my courage, walked over to the Veteran and shook his hand.
“Thank you, Sir, for everything you did.”
“I was glad to do it.” He replied.
“Is there anything I can do for you, Sir? We’re just going to get some hot chocolate and a coffee, would you like to join us?”
He thanked me for my offer, but declined, so we turned to walk away. Just then he called to me.
“You asked if there was anything you could do…”
Fastening his eyes on my child, he said quietly, “Please…don’t let him forget.”
Somehow, I managed to speak around the lump in my throat, and whispered, “No Sir…I won’t.”
Years later, I met and married my husband. Had more children. And still, Remembrance Day is a sacred day in our home, to discuss the sacrifices that were made, the current war being fought, the parents who have lost children, the children who have lost parents. Three more times I’ve found myself having the same discussion with a bright-eyed three-year old, the good guys vs bad guys, right and wrong, and its never gotten any easier. I don’t think it should. I think that trying to explain war should always come with difficulty, not with any glib or pat answers. Still, despite my daughter’s protest that other families don’t, we continue to observe.
I have a promise to keep. And I will never, ever, forget
And to add: Diva, the one who claimed we were weird? Well, today she takes her place as Honour Guard in the Ceremonies, with her incredibly proud Daddy and the two Middle Minions looking on. I cannot attend, due to RSD making standing out in the cold and snow pure agony, and will be home with the littlest Minions….watching the Ceremonies on TV.
What does your family do for Remembrance Day?