The kids and I were talking about remembrance day this morning, they wondered why it was so important. It was boring having to stand out there and listen to people talk, and that minute of silence for them seems to last hours. I understood what they were talking about, I remembered feeling like that as a kid too. I talked to them about Hitler, and how he was a bad man, but one bad man cannot accomplish the evil he accomplished. We then talked about the fact that many of the soldiers were really just boys. I named Gabe's friends who are 17 going on 18. I told the kids to imagine having to say good-by to Ryan (our angel. Ryan is one of Gabe's best friends and a frequent much wanted visitor to our home). "But Ryan's just a kid!" they replied. "I know, and so were they. They were just kids' and they gave their lives so that we could have ours." They got it, well as much as 8 and 11 year olds get such a weighty subject.
After telling them about Remembrance Day, I began to remember baby faces dressed in military gear. Back in September of 2008, my little village did a really wonderful thing, we really supported our troops. I believe that it was the Tweed Legion that got the ball rolling, somehow they discovered that Canadian Troops deploying for a tour in Afghanistan were traveling from Petawawa to Trenton, and traveling right through Tweed. Calls were made, and in the end most of the population of Tweed lined our small street to support our troops. The three schools all went to Tim Hortons to wait, or lined Victoria Street. They waved flags, dressed in red, and some of them held signs that said "Thank You", and "We Support Our Troops". Our family dressed in red and went out for every day that we could, and sadly there were many. I remember that first day standing there, very pregnant (it was just a week or so before I had to check into the hospital for a month to have Elly. I was not able to go to all of the deployments because at the end I was in Kingston General Hospital. Elly's was a high risk pregnancy, and I was stuck in the hospital for the last month of my pregnancy. The kids would call me in the hospital to tell me about seeing the troops). I was in awe of the crowd before me. You could feel the pride in the air. We all stood there lining the streets feeling like we were a part of something bigger than ourselves.
We all stood there, waiting, the anticipation was electric. Then there were the excited shouts "They're coming. I've just been radioed that they have left Tim Hortons and they're coming!" Our Legion members arranged themselves, dressed in their uniforms, holding their flags, they looked wonderful. I have never felt as proud to be a Canadian as I did as I saw that unassuming bus pull up and those soldiers make their way out. The looks on their faces were both heartbreaking and amazing. Most of the soldiers were in awe of the support, they looked a little shell shocked. Some of them wept. Most of us wept. I stood fighting back the sobs as I looked at those soldiers old enough to nearly be my child. Oh God, how must it feel to see you baby, possibly for the last time, knowing that this is what they have chosen? I looked at the older soldiers, my age, and thought about how very difficult that must be for them to have to leave their families to face unknown danger.The fresh faced soldiers walked along the sidewalk shaking hands, giving hugs, posing for pictures. Tweed treated those soldiers like they were celebrities, and for us they were. They all deserve to be treated like that! I heard that the later troops deploying passing through Tweed were excited, hearing from those before them what they were in store for. Every time the soldiers passed through, we were there, waving flags, dressed in red, trying to thank them for their sacrifice.
For a full year, and for some, forever, those soldiers stayed in our hearts. Many of the school classes wrote letters for the soldiers. Those little people were so excited to receive a letter in return. Some of soldiers, so grateful for the support sent their child pen pals little gifts from Afghanistan. That Christmas my family put together a care package. We lovingly packed it with things that might remind those men and women in the hot desert of their cold white home. We filled it with Christmas CDs, and snacks, and anything we could find that seemed like home. The kid's loved it, and as parents we tried to teach them about patriotism and giving thanks.
A funny thing happened today as I prepared to write this blog. I decided that I wanted to have a picture of the residents of Tweed lining the Streets. In September 2008 there were hundreds floating around the internet, we were a big story back then. We even made it to the major television stations. This time it was harder to find those once plentiful pictures. As I scanned over the pictures, I came across the one at the top of the page. I was shocked to say the least to find a picture of my family taken by one of those soldier's moms. She wrote a beautiful blog herself, giving the perspective of a mother. I highly recommend taking a peek at it.
For me Remembrance Day is about World War One and World War Two. As a little girl my Nana would tell me stories about being a child in World War One and a mother in Scotland during World War Two. I would sit forever listening with bated breath to her tell her stories. She was an amazing story teller, my Nana. You could almost hear the air raid sirens, smell the smoke, feel the terror. Having said that, when I think about Remembrance Day it is of those young faces that I think. I think about what those poor young people had to face when they left our country of peace and landed in Hell. When I think of Remembrance Day, I think of our troops from Petawawa.
The above statue was carved by our local extremely talented, and extremely generous artist, Paul Shier.
Paul worked hundred of hours to carve this beautiful sculpture. He then donated it as a memorial to the lost soldiers from the War in Afghanistan. It was the first of it's kind in Canada.