Today many Commonwealth and some non-Commonwealth countries will mark today as a Remembrance Sunday, the closest Sunday to the official Remembrance Day, November 11th. Remembrance Day marks the end of the First World War. The war ended on the 11th hour, of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, and is remembered annually amongst the Commonwealth and some non-Commonwealth countries.
Remembrance Sunday and Remembrance Day are days where people come together and remember the fallen men and women of wars, both current and past. They think about people who suffer as a result of injuries sustained in the pursuit of freedom and those whose loved ones never came home. In Canada, Remembrance Day itself is given as a public holiday, something I think is quite fitting to allow those left behind to spend time together as families.
For me this time of year is a time for self-reflection and to remember my Dad who lost his life 24 years ago during the first Gulf War. Throughout the year I have moments of reflection but this week is especially the case as acts of remembrance go on all around. Also hearing the bugle that’s played to mark the last post always brings a lump to my throat and jumps me out of any day dream I might be in to take time to reflect and remember.
Although I never knew my Dad because he was killed when I was 3, I do still think about him (a bizarre concept to many as I have no physical memories of him). This year in particular has been a massive time of reflection as I made one of the biggest changes of my life, moving to Canada. Not only was moving to Canada a dream I have had for many years, much of the kick up the bum to actually do it came from thinking about how precious life is and how short it can be. Why put off until tomorrow what can be done today? Tomorrow may never come and, I for one, am not about to live my life and look back and go “what if?”. As I write this I am 28 years old, which is less than 12 months younger than my Dad when he was killed.
Although not knowing him has been hard to live with at times, having that motivation to live life to the full and chase my dreams has been invaluable. I often wonder what his thoughts would be about what I have done in the past and what I choose to do now. I also wonder what life would be like if he had come home.
Would he have suffered from PTSD and had to live with the horrors he witnessed? Would we get on as father and son? How would I have lived my life differently and what sort of person would I have become? One thing is for sure, whatever the answers are, I will never know the answers and that’s ok, what’s important is to take the time to reflect and to keep chasing my dreams however they may change in the future.
To friends and family who have served or are serving to keep our freedom, thank you, I will never forget!