Mielke: Reflections on the importance of Remembrance Day

The importance of Remembrance Day

Remembrance Day marked by blood red poppies and silence is back again.

Lest we forget!

Already I have bought at least two poppies and already I have lost that many.

I truly hope when I get to the Remembrance Day service I will have a poppy pinned in place that hasn’t yet fallen off my jacket.

I truly don’t want people to think that I, in the rush of everyday living, have forgotten what Remembrance Day is all about.

In my heart, I know, even if my poppy should fall off, that I have not forgotten.

Nor will I ever forget.

It is true I have often forgotten where I put my keys, my glasses and sometimes, even my purse, but Remembrance Day and its importance, I will not forget.

And, even if, along the way, I should get caught up in my own life’s story and worry about things that probably, in the big picture, aren’t all that important, always there are reminders along the way of the importance of wearing a poppy, being proud, being respectful and most of all, being grateful for those who fought for our freedom.

Lest we forget.

One of the very cool things about being a reporter, probably, for me at least, the very coolest thing, is the people you meet along the way.

For me, many of these individuals have been war veterans.

As they have granted me the privilege of telling their stories, spanning years of memories, sometimes the details, though horrific, spilled out easily in the telling. But, as I sat and waited, pencil in hand, ready to scribble notes as best I could, more often than not, their stories were fraught with meaningful pauses and quiet, painful reflection.

And as I struggle to put these memories to life via the written word, I always felt a sense of awe and humility.

How could I possibly do justice to the memories of these war veterans who had flirted with death on foreign shores, saw buddies die in fox holes, listened to the staccato shots of enemy fire and who, had somehow, lived to tell about it.

But, as a humble journalist, I tried. Every year I tried.

This year we will celebrate the anniversary of the end of the First World War. At the setting of the sun Nov. 11, bells will ring 100 times to signify the anniversary.

The anniversary reminds me of a book I have read about the First World War Dear Katie, Dearest Angus: Red Deer Serves: 1914-18.

The book is dedicated to all of those brave men of central Alberta who volunteered to serve overseas during the Great War, which extended from August 1914 to November 1918. The story is about a fictional family who emigrated from Scotland and lived in Red Deer.

When the Great War began Red Deer had a population of 2,200 and north Red Deer somewhat fewer.

The story focuses on one couple, but, really, it could be about a whole nation of families ripped apart by war. It is touching, funny, sad and endearing and it reminds the reader that it was not only the soldiers who suffered, but also the families they left behind.

The book was written by the late Andrew Moffat.

Moffat served in Canada’s army for 32 years, including service in the Korean War, as well as later in Germany and Italy.

I think about Andrew Moffat, whom I found to be a gracious, charming and absolutely delightful gentleman.

And I think about the way they were. Strong young soldiers, proudly wearing their Canadian uniforms along with their fierce Canadian pride, no matter what foreign shore they landed on.

Remembrance Day is coming up in a few days. Once again it is time to wear a blood red poppy and to remember.

Lest we forget!

How could we?

Treena Mielke is the editor of the Rimbey Review. She lives in Sylvan Lake with her family.

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