We visited a cemetery today to pay respects. Although we had no family members buried there, we located a soldier’s grave and placed on it poppy wreaths the boys had made. The man buried beneath the headstone had been 20 when he died. In a quiet moment with my eldest, I recited In Flanders Fields… and explained what it meant. He’s 9 and I suppose he understands it all about as well as I did at that age, when the overwhelming beauty of a person sacrificing their lives for the values we as a country hold sacred is still a pretty abstruse concept. But this is why we remember on Remembrance Day. It’s not that we shouldn’t remember every single day we draw breath, but having one day devoted to remembrance helps instill our children — and re-instill us — with an understanding and appreciation. Maybe they don’t “get it” at first, but eventually they will. This is how we pass “the torch” and “hold it high.”
Every day, thousands of men and women risk their lives to protect us, keep us safe, and guard our freedom, and there are hundreds of thousands before them who have risked — and, far too often, lost — their lives in service of our country with the same noble objectives. Some of those who have died have been almost children, the incandescent glow of youth still visible on their skin. Those who have fought have been separated from their families, subjected to grueling conditions. They have witnessed horrors most of us could never imagine.
Today, I am thankful for them. Today, I remember.