Tomorrow is Remembrance Day and this time of year always makes me think of my mom and dad. Born in different countries, separated by an ocean, brought together by World War II.
My father was in the Canadian Army and part of the armed forces involved in the 1945 liberation of Holland. That was where he would meet my mother. She was just a young woman in her early 20s who had spent her teenage years in German-occupied Holland. They were frightening years and the 1945 Winter of Hunger left thousands dead from starvation. With extreme shortages of food and no electricity or heat, the months leading up to the liberation of Holland were very bleak.
Their experiences as young people had a profound impact on how I was raised. I was brought up to appreciate what I had and not be wasteful. I was raised to be grateful to live in a peaceful country and not know violence or hatred. These were values instilled by a mother whose early adult years were flavoured by fear and hunger. As I reflect back, we didn’t have a lot – but we had enough.
Every Remembrance Day as a child included the parade to the Cenotaph followed by prayers, the laying of wreaths and playing of Taps. To this day, that mournful sound of the bugle still brings tears to my eyes as I picture the grim looks on my parent’s faces as they stood quietly in the November cold.
This Remembrance Day, like all others before it, I will remember. I will be grateful.