Remembrance Day always has a personal significance since my father was a veteran of World War II. Like so many, he seemed reluctant to tell many stories of his time overseas. One can only imagine the memories that would exist.
We grew up with the annual ritual of the Poppy campaign, which my Dad looked after in our community. There were some jaunts to the Royal Canadian Legion in Hillsborough, about a half hour from home.
One rather tangible record of some things that were brought to our attention was a cache of almost 500 letters sent to my mother during the years Dad was away. I received these after my Mother's death and read through all of them. They were all numbered so the proper sequence has been retained.
I think I was most surprised at the literacy of these letters, as my Dad gave very little indication of that part of his being. This is one of the most poignant excerpts....
" June 10, 1942
....... it must be great there now in the mornings about the time you go to school. I can just see the spider's webs and dew shining in the early morning sun, and the bobolinks would be nearby bursting....and the gardens would be just showing lines along the rows where the seeds are just coming through the ground. The hard working beans with their bent back. Did you ever take notice of seeds coming up? Well there is a lot of fun looking at the different ones as they start though the ground. You will have to look twice to see the skinny onion, and the squash jumps right out of the ground at you. Hey, what am I getting down on this paper anyway, asking a farmer's daughter if she was ever in a garden, and only a dozen years ago i hardly knew a carrot from grass. You will have to blame it on this pen...as I told you before, at times I have no control over it. So maybe I had better put it in my pocket for awhile......"
These were in no way a record of war, but rather a journal of the day to day, or week to week activities of life in the Army.
All soldiers knew they couldn't give much information of actual military activities since they would be censored out.
Dad had a bit of code that as Mother received letters let her know where he had been in recent history. The mundane tasks of staying alive and reasonably comfortable make up much of the focus.
The other main theme was one of extreme homesickness. Dad missed home and family very much. My older sister was only a baby when he left for England. The highlight of any day or week would be the arrival of letters and the precious parcels that brought a bit of home to the boys.
There also seemed to be a continual need to obtain a supply of cigarettes, a commodity that was in a constant state of flux...too many borrowed, too few arriving!
My Father was joined by three of his brothers overseas and remarkably all returned home in reasonably good shape. Such was not the case for many .
Watching the history of the Silver Cross Medal today brought home that fact.
Remembrances now cover many generations both past and present.