I watched CBC TV's coverage of Remembrance Day on Parliament Hill Wednesday. Several vets in their late 80s and early 90s told some of their stories. But in a few years, millions of untold stories about our fathers, grandfathers or great grandfathers, will be gone. And simply because we didn't ask to hear them.
Somewhere in England, November 4th 1943... Thus began a postcard that took 64 years to deliver. Though the ink is still legible, the paper has yellowed. On the front is a picture of the Old Curiosity shop that Charles Dickens used to visit in London. It was a simple detail that Loyes Denny wanted to share with his baby sister, Mary.
Remembrance Day has turned into something that I don't like, and I can't wear a symbol that's representative of a government that has fought neocolonial wars that I simply don't agree with. If the government is so adamant that we respect veterans, they could, perhaps, respect veterans by giving them greater access to mental health resources for when they come back home riddled with PTSD. Our government has its citizens to go fight in pointless wars, then makes up for it by throwing big displays of poppies and hundreds of renditions of Flanders Field.
Taking this time to reflect on the dedication of our armed forces is not the same as blindly supporting war. Remembrance Day is really about being present to the experiences of those who sacrificed their mental and emotional well-being in the name of our country. It's about expressing gratitude to those who gave up their dreams so that the rest of us can pursue ours. After all, while the poppy historically symbolizes the blood of fallen soldiers, it also represents a flower that was able to grow in land too infertile for much else; transforming from a mere community of poppy seeds while simultaneously converting the land into fertile and beautiful possibility.
When I began to research Private John Bernard Croak I realized just how remarkable a man he was. Aside from the one award-winning day, all other aspects of this man's service record indicate a very poor soldier with a very serious drinking problem and issues obeying commands. That is why I want to tell you about him.