Everyone has their busy lives, their jobs and kids and obligations. People are getting ready for Christmas and decorating and wrapping and shopping. Folks are rushing around, cramming all of the chores into one day off. I’m no different. Once I finish this, I’ll be writing a Family Teaching Assignment and working on a Creative Project. I’ll be busy, and rushed, and cramming. But until 12pm I do NONE of those things.
When I was little, we didn’t have a day off for Remembrance Day. We went to school, and waited for 10am. We all lined up, rosey cheeks and runny noses, and walked all the way from our tiny elementary school to the cenetaph. We stood outside, usually in knee-deep snow, and watched as soldiers, cadets, scouts, and guides marched by. We tried to keep our teeth from chattering too loudly during the 2 minutes of silence, and we chatted with relief through the Reveille. We mumbled along to God Save the Queen (because we didn’t actually know the words) and rushed to get some hot chocolate and head back to school. For 7 years this was my Remembrance Day routine.
Then I moved to New Brunswick, and coincedence or not, there was no school on Remembrance Day. The first year I stayed home I think it was a ‘clean the house day’ with my Mom – but we still paused when the trumpet sounded through the radio for our 2 minutes of silence. Again, I think I chatted through the Reveille. I felt a little bad, when my Dad came home from the parade, handsome in his uniform, and wondered if it was disrespectful not to attend the ceremony..?
This pattern continued, and I stayed home and listened to the ceremony that aired on the radio. After that I would usually put the Ottawa ceremony on tv. I was sure that someone would find out about my at-home remembering and accuse me of being disrespectful. I decided that staying home and listening to the radio was good for me and that it didn’t matter what others thought. I like being alone to think about those who serve, and remember them. Usually this was done with my Mama, so I wasn’t really alone.
This year, my first year in my new place with My Soldier. K was in Fredericton with the rest of 2RCR and my father was in Oromocto. For the first time in 5 years I thought about going to the cenetaph. But which one should I go to? Do I drive to Fredericton, try and find a place to park, shove my way through a cold and grumpy crowd and stand there teary eyed for the ceremony? Or, do I bundle up, and walk to the Oromocto ceremony where my Dad was, head down through the crowd and stand their teary eyed as a military community mourns the loss of all veterans – especially our 152? Or do I stay home? And start my own Remembrance Day tradition?
I stayed home. I put the radio on, and I curled up with a blanket and I sat on my couch. I made Mac lay, and told him to be quiet. And I listened. I heard the orders, given to the soldiers of 2RCR to stand at attention, to turn, and to march toward the cenetaph. I heard the order to stand at ease and I heard the stomp of over 1000 boots hit the hard ground. I sang Oh Canada along with the radio, and I closed my eyes as the Last Post rang through. I sat in complete silence for 2 minutes, and even Mac knew better than to make a sound. I didn’t talk through the Reveille, I didn’t even move. I didn’t even giggle when the shots scared Mac. I sat there, completely still, until the radio commentator announced that “we will now return to the usual broadcast”. Then I turned on the television and tuned in to the Ottawa Remembrance Day ceremony. I thought about all the soldiers I know and hoped that they feel today, and all days, how special they are.
When I have my own children, I know what I’ll do. Wherever we’re living, I’ll bundle them up – rosey cheeks and runny noses – and we’ll walk to the cenetaph where their father will be standing, at attention, for them. We will stand there, probably in knee-deep snow with teary eyes. We’ll try to keep our teeth from chattering through the 2 minutes of silence, and they’ll probably chat through the Reveille. They’ll jump when shots are fired, at one minute intervals, and I might let a giggle or two out. I’ll smile when they run over for hot chocolate and want to hurry back home. We’ll do this, until they know what it’s about. Until they are thankful for everything, including the freedom, that they have.
Then, we’ll turn on the radio.