As an immigrant, Remembrance Day ceremonies in Canada always impress me and demonstrates a deep community-based strength and toughness of Canadians that isn’t always apparent on the surface. Each year that I’ve attended ceremonies at Brennon Park in Squamish, the numbers seem to increase with lots of young families with kids. It is always so sad when the names of Squamish residents who died in the first and second world wars are read out. The list is long, particularly when you remember that back in 1914-18/1939-45 Squamish was a tiny agricultural/logging community. Every person who died would have been known by every family in town – similar sacrifices were made by communities from coast to coast to coast. We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the members of our armed forces, both past and present, for the freedom’s and privileges we all enjoy today.
After the ceremonies I went for a walk along the Squamish river, where the leaves of the deciduous trees are almost gone, and snow has begun to accumulate on the hills – winter is on the way. I’ll finish off this blog with the poem “In Flanders Fields” written by a Canadian physician Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae. He wrote it in 1915, after attending the funeral of fellow soldier Alexis Helmer, who died in the Second Battle of Ypres. This poem, and the poppies worn around the world on November 11 are reminders of Canada’s enormous contributions.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.