My father never talked about his experiences in the Second World War. In our family, we only knew that he had been a navigator on a Lancaster bomber. His only souvenir was a leather flier’s cap, with an oxygen mask, something my brother and I played with.
My father only talked about his memories of the end of war and the first days of peace. First in Europe, and then in Japan.
It was only a visit to an air museum that I discovered how sterile a bomber could be and how cold life could be flying in one. And a visit to Halifax left me in great appreciation for the sailors who plied the cold North Atlantic during the months of January and February in Canadian Corvettes shepherding Allied ships from Canada to Britain.
Our Canadian fliers, sailors, and soldiers who put their lives—and those of their families—on hold, we recognize this Sunday. They left behind families who, in their own way, worked for the war effort. And we must remember that 40,000 did not return.
This past month, we again watched as wives, children, husbands, and parents hugged and waved good-bye to loved ones from the docks of Halifax and Vancouver. It must be reminiscent of farewells from 60 years ago.
The tragedy of Sept. 11 and the response of Canada, its sailors, soldiers, and air crews to the threats we face today are no different than what our fathers and grandfathers faced in previous wars.
Again lives are placed on hold. Again we have Canadian soldiers, Canadian sailors, and Canadian fliers willing to risk their lives to preserve our way of life. We are reminded of the words of John McCrae:
“Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.”