My friend Carolyne from www.Carolyne.com gave me permission to re-use her post. And since this is Veterans Day, and her message is so important, it seemed like a darned good idea.
The only trouble is, even reading it a second time, my eyes have gotten all blurry...
Being a war-baby, my first memories of childhood are hearing BBC London radio broadcasts here in Canada, Churchill's voice, newspapers showing pictures of him with his big cigar (why would a child remember that?), and looking up to see B52 bombers flying so low overhead that it seemed you could reach up and touch them.
Odd, for a 3 or 4-year old, perhaps not to find it frightening; just goes to show we only know what we know.
We didn't know to be afraid, or that things had not always been this way. Growing up surrounded only by adults perhaps had some bearing on it.
Not yet exposed to anything else other than war talk, sights and sounds. Soldiers being transported to Camp Aldershot in the east, from where they would be shipped overseas. Hearing them sing "army songs." Barracks where soldiers lived and practiced marching skills.
And then, one day, the all important victory parades where there were the Planter's Peanut Men on a float tossing "peanut men salt and pepper shakers" to the crowd, and adults lining the streets eating cotton candy and the smell of freshly made French fries offered by street vendors.
It was safe for children to be on the streets, but most often they were with family members, hand in hand.
Gradually the soldiers began coming home. The click click of their boots on the sidewalks, often three or four soldiers walking in unison, out of habit. Sometimes when they would see a pretty girl or woman they would hoot ‘n holler, yell out hubba hubba, or let out a wolf whistle. When they were first home, they still wore their uniforms if out for a walk or with family, a sight a child does not easily forget.
Yet still no fear. It was mesmerizing. We just knew, instinctively, that things would get better. Life would be okay. They would take care of us all. And that's what they did.
Rations continued for a long time after. It would be several years before sugar, butter, eggs, coffee and chocolate were widely available. Homemakers often traded their ration coupons among themselves, for items each preferred. Shortages were nothing like they had been in Europe of course, but adults in Canada were happy to cut back in order to send food to the troops overseas.
The factories that had made men's upscale leather shoes and were turned into boot factories, once again began to make regular shoes, and the women who had worked there polishing the boots found themselves having to give up their shift jobs to make room for the returning men; this was the case in all industry jobs where the women stepped up to the plate so to speak to fill the void of male workers gone off to war.
We must be careful what is said and seen around children. They take in everything around them. And they don't forget. Recalling perfectly more than sixty-five years later is a perfect example.
The sights and sounds and smells, and the overheard dinner-table war stories are indelibly engraved. Because the war was classified as current news for what seemed a long time, a few years later in school, the curriculum, textbooks, did not cover the war until many years later.
Then, seeing the topics in print, we could say: I remember that.
Thanksgiving Day is every day, thanks to the troops. Say a prayer, lay a wreath. But do remember.
And teach your children to remember, too. Explain to them what the two minutes of silence really means.
They need to know: it should never happen again. Never, ever, forget. Give thanks.