I was at the cenotaph for the Iroquois Legion’s Remembrance Day service on November 6. The day was absolutely beautiful, the setting sun stretching out shadows to the west, hardly a cloud in the sky, pleasantly, sweetly warm for late fall.
There wasn’t a huge crowd gathered at the monument. Often there isn’t. Some veterans, members of the Legion, a few civic, service and business leaders, church representatives, scouts, and a handful of ordinary people waiting for the parade from the Legion. I talked to a couple of the women. One woman’s husband had been in the military for nearly two decades before he retired. The other was younger. Her husband has just signed up to serve in the Canadian forces. Each woman had her own private reason for being at the cenotaph this balmy November day.
You wonder sometimes, as you listen to the service, just what the guys whose names are engraved on the weathered grey monument would make of all this: the pipes, the wreaths, the quiet little crowd.
No serene autumn days in the world where such young men gave up their lives! Hard to admire a sunset when the earth around you is erupting in mortar shells and machine gun bullets. Hard to recall blue skies when the sea around you is full of burning ships and floating corpses. Hard to remember a warm wind when you are shivering in a loaded bomber praying the ack-ack and the search lights miss you.
Perhaps these long-lost warriors of long ago wars, wherever they are, will be glad to know that people still come out on a sunny afternoon to think about them. That there are kids in this crowd who stood and saluted at their names. That the sound of the pipes in The Last Post could still bring tears to watching eyes. Maybe they’ll even feel that it had actually been worth it: forever giving up their own chances of quiet autumn days like this so that people in this town, this province, this country would never have to.
It might be a comfort for them to know that we remember them still. And we honour them.