“They gave their tomorrow’s for our today’s.” This is an epitaph inscription I saw in Inverness, Scotland in the summer of 1989, and it has stayed with me ever since because of it’s clarity and depth.
When I think of Remembrance Day, I am (and always have been) moved to tears, which catches me off guard, because I’m not a strong supporter of war, and so it feels funny to connect so strongly with a day that is all about remembering the people that lost their lives at war. But the thing for me that has always made it important is to remember their lives. It’s not about how they lost them, it’s about who they were being when they lost their lives…what they were standing for, and the legacy they leave. For me, Remembrance Day is filled with deep gratitude for the people who were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice…I know it sounds so cliché, but it rings true. There is almost nothing more moving to me than people who have made other’s lives more important than their own. Not every generation is called upon to do that, and so being one of those generations that didn’t have to, it could be really easy to take it for granted, simply because we can’t relate to it.
It is so huge it is not even fathomable. And to me, it means so much.
My grandfather trained pilots for the Second World War. I guess by the time the Second World War arrived, he was a little too old to go. But he had so much to offer in terms of his knowledge of flying and his ability to teach. So even though it was not the kind of sacrifice that other people made, he did uproot his family and move to a different part of Canada for the 2 or 3 years that he trained novice pilots to fly for the war. I can only imagine what it was like to be training bright, young, willing, enthusiastic people, knowing full well, that not all of them would make it home. How do you reconcile something like that? How can you appropriately recognize this unspoken contribution? There is no way to do that. So we do what we can, which is to remember them, and what they stood for. And in that way, their names and their legacies live on long after their short lives ended.
So what does our generation leave behind?
What’s the legacy that is meaningful enough to pass on?
I don’t know the answers to those questions, but I do know that it’s where we need to look, in order to make the best contribution we can.
Ok, over to you:
As we go into Remembrance Day, who and what are you honouring?