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Remembrance Day

Remembrance Day Andrew Francis Wallace/Toronto Star via Getty Images

I’ve always been very grateful that I was born at the right time and didn’t have to fight in a war. I can’t imagine having to. I don’t have the ‘right stuff’ for that. I’m spoiled and happy.

In the fall, we did a bike riding holiday in Holland and stopped at a cemetery for Canadian soldiers. Reading the ages and where the men were from was rather sobering. There were names from all across the country. I’m glad we got the chance to walk through.

I had an uncle who fought in the Second World War. I didn’t know I had uncles or an aunt until I was in my 20s. My parents moved from England to Canada and didn’t discuss family or their life growing up. I didn’t know about this uncle until he visited us one summer.

I didn’t get to talk to him enough. He talked a bit about the war, but I wish I could have learned more. He had scars from the war. I don’t know how you go from what he went through to having an everyday life. He is no longer with us. I wish I could thank him. Pretty soon, there won’t be anyone to tell us about that war.

My dad was in the reserves for years until his asthma didn’t allow him to pass the fitness tests, and he was about 50 then. My brother was in the cadets and then joined the army. Thankfully, he didn’t have to serve in a war.

Years ago, my son’s class had a field trip to the air museum here, and our group’s guide told us his war story. He flew a Lancaster Bomber and was shot down over Belgium. They parachuted and managed to evade the Germans until they were captured in France. He ended up at Stalag Luft III, where the Great Escape happened. If you haven’t seen the movie, you should. He did not escape, but he helped dig tunnels that 50 men escaped through. All but three were recaptured or killed, but it helped the war effort. The Germans took soldiers off the front lines to search for the escapees.

He told us how he was moved from prison camp to prison camp, moving towards Berlin as Germany was being overrun from both sides. Finally, with the Russians coming closer, the prison guards released the prisoners and tried to surrender to them, not wanting to end up in Russian prison camps. I’m lucky to have heard the story from him.

We owe an immeasurable debt to many who gave up so much for us. Take a few minutes and remember those who gave so much.