11 November 2009
the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month,
remembrance day. its a special day for me. it always is. it just means a lot to me that worldwide there is a celebration for those who have served their country, both past and present. remembrance day last year will forever hold a special place in my heart as i got to experience a once in a lifetime ceremony with 3 of last surviving world war I veterans. it truly was a once in a lifetime as just one short year later, all 3 are dead. (for more info read HERE and HERE)
and this year is special but for another reason. this remembrance day is eleri's first. i realise that she is just 3 and a half months old and will have no recollection of this time. but its important to me that even from this early of an age she is surrounded by the words, pictures and memories of those who have so bravely served their countries. i want her to remember so that their sacrifices are not forgotten. i want eleri to know, to understand, to care.
I wanted to take her to the ceremony at Westminster Abbey. It was focused on the first world war because, as i mentioned earlier, all the surviving british WWI veterans died this year. it didnt quite work out that way, and we ended up staying home. we read poems, sang songs, looked at pictures and observed the 2 minutes of silence at the 11th hour.
and in an attempt to familiarise my daughter even more with great 'war' moments of the past, i read her all the famous speeches i could think of. i
"we shall fight them on the beaches" winston churchill
"a day that will live in infamy" franklin d roosevelt
"sixteen hours ago" (in reference to the atomic bomb) harry truman
"scorched earth" joesph stalin
"the iron curtain speech" winston churchill
"peace for our time" and "this country is at war with germany" neville chamberlin
"the war to end all wars" woodrow wilson
and at the end of president wilson's speech, eleri started to goo and giggle. i think she missed the poignancy that is remembrance day. all she understood was that her mommy was playing with her. and as she laughed, i started to cry. I was struck with the dichotomy of the situation. i was reading words telling of great destruction and tragedy, stories that recounted the most horrific situations. i was reading the words of war to my sweet, innocent daughter. and it broke my heart.
i cried because the men of the two world wars are dying out. i cried because we still have men and woman fighting and dying in wars even today. i cried because someday she may know the pain of loss that comes with war. and she just kept smiling, goo-ing and laughing.
this day will hold a special place in my heart. i will tell her about her first remembrance day. and when she is older, and can actually understand what courage and sacrifice are honoured on this very special day, we will read through the speeches again.
thank you soldiers past and present. thank you for your selfless sacrifice to help bring peace and security to our world. soldiers, you are not forgotten.