Friday, November 11, 2011

Remembrance Day, 2011

I awoke this morning to the refrain, "And the band played waltzing Matilda." I thought of my father, who spent some of World War II in Australia. Most of the time, he was behind anti-aircraft guns -- the kind that fire large shells and make a lot of noise. Understandably, by the end of the war, he wanted nothing to do with guns -- large or small. I never saw him go near one.

However, he did not feel the same about the army. He said it taught him self-discipline, how to organize on the fly, and how to fix things. And, when he returned, it offered him an education. Late in his life, he told me that he owed his return not to anything he did but to "pure dumb luck."

When we buried him a couple of years ago, two of the men he served with came to the grave site -- with their wives and their walkers. "If ye break faith with us who die," John McCrae wrote, "we shall not sleep."

Today we keep the faith.


Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

The very personal stories of the war experience is always very touching. I have been reading some of them this week as well as a lot of poetry that was written by soldiers during the two WW's. It is interesting how humanity comes to the fore in so many personal experiences in war situations which by their very nature are inhuman and soul destroying.

Owen Gray said...

Every generation seems to face a crisis, Philip. Those people who can preserve their humanity in the midst of a crisis are heroes -- whether anybody else knows about it or not.