November is a special time for me as it focusses my thoughts on remembrance and the price of freedom that was paid for me. Even though I was born after World War II, I was strongly impacted by the stories that my mother told me about sacrifices everyone made during the war years. We sometimes forget that the fighting lasted for almost six years!
Young men joined ranks and left their homes for unknown locations and secrecy. Their training involved doing things that would help them in battle but haunt them afterwards. They were conditioned to sleep lightly, respond with physical aggression and drive without limits. Often alcohol was used during time off as a way to relieve stress
Many soldiers didn’t return and those who did often brought back physical and mental scars that would last a lifetime. It was hard to fit back into families because of what had been experienced.
Life for those who remained on the home front were also changed. Food stamps were issued to distribute limited supplies. The need to donate blood, wrap bandages and support causes such as the Red Cross invaded everyday thoughts and efforts.
The shortage of men in the workplace required women to take up the slack. This fact alone changed the whole fabric of society and opened the door for two-income households after the war ended
War brides who were lured to Canada by men in uniform added a new twist to immigration and expanded our mindset for different cultures. And then, the men’s return home sparked the baby boom!
I remember Remembrance Day Services as a child which were held in the Memorial Hall. It was always packed with families from the town and rural areas. A very solemn service with uniforms, flags, trumpets, prayers and silence was followed by the laying of wreaths at the town’s cenotaph
Over the years I have been so fortunate to work as a therapist with Veterans. I have heard the traumatic tales that many buried in their hearts and minds for decades. But these didn’t end after discharge. Inability to sleep without nightmares, relationship struggles, addictions and physical pain continued and still continue for many. Those closest and most loved were protected from the details by the men and women who served.
But Remembrance Day is much bigger than World War II. Before and since there has been military service as well as protection from police throughout the world. These individuals and organizations continue to sacrifice so that our freedoms remain.
And now, we face another Remembrance Day – a time for remembering and giving thanks.
Why do we continue the November 11th ritual
I think the whole purpose is aptly housed in the three words that serve as the day’s motto:
Lest we forget!