Saturday, November 11, 2006


11th DAY of the 11th MONTH
by Michael T. Smith

In the USA, it is known as Veterans' Day.
In Canada, it is known as Remembrance Day.
When I was a youngster, it was just another holiday -- a day
when stores were closed and more importantly, there was no school.
I knew about the war, but I was free to play. I knew people
died for our freedom, but I could sleep in. I knew my parents had
little when they were growing up because of the war, but I had food
on my plate and a day to watch TV. The real meaning of the day was
distant to me.
Years later, my daughter joined the Brownies. The first year
she was a member, I set the alarm to wake us on the morning of 11/11.
She had to participate in a parade. Every Brownie, Girl Guide, Cub
Scout, and Scout had to participate in the parade. It was a day to
remember those who died for our freedom.
My wife and I left our daughter with the Guide leader and
proceeded to the Canadian Legion, where we waited for her. The kids
paraded a mile along the coastal roads of Nova Scotia, carrying their
flags high and proud. We waited for their arrival. Veterans joined
them. Old men, long past the prime. They'd fought in the trenches
and watched their comrades die. Many came in wheelchairs. Some
limped. A few still stood strong.
They walked as proudly as they could to the legion, where a band waited.
The band played, speeches were made, and on the 11th month, the
11th day, the 11th hour, the 11th minute, and the 11th second there
began two minutes of silence.
I looked at the veterans. Their sacrifices allowed us to stand
there that day. They gave us our freedom. The cold seeped through
my jacket. I reached out and held my wife. A tear trickled down my
cheek. For years, I slept as those brave men marched in the cold
November air in remembrance for those who died in battle beside them.
It took my daughter to make me realize the importance of the day.
I never missed another Remembrance Day. Years later, because of
work, I was separated from my family. I was in another city. On
Remembrance Day, I heard there was going to be a service in the city
square. I was in Saint John, New Brunswick. I put on my jacket and
tie, pinned a poppy to my lapel, walked the mile to the service,
stood in the damp cold and watched those brave men once again march
for our freedom.
I don't know if it was because I was away from my family or the
sight of those old men still walking proudly, but the memory of that
service never fades.
The Veterans marched, wheeled, and limped to the city square.
The mayor gave a speech. The two minutes of silence began. At the
end, a bagpipe began to play "Amazing Grace."
After the first chorus, a second bagpipe joined in, along with a
small band. On the third chorus, more bagpipes joined and a brass
band began to play. The building of sound, the magic of the moment
is something I will never forget. The tears filled my eyes that day,
as the blood must have filled the trenches in battle.
That moment burned in my mind forever.
On November 11th, please take a moment to remember those who
fought for our freedom and those that continue to fight for it.
May God bless them all.


onestrangecat said...



derasta said...

This is wonderful...thank you :)


mynamebecj said...

The description in this gentleman's writing could have been me writing about the services in which we attended today.  We go every year to the cititaph here in North Vancouver, British Columbia for the services but this year we made a change and took an Aunt to Port Kells, BC.   Their unbeknownest to any of us, we found Al's dad's name listed with other Port Kells solders who served thier country during one of the wars (WWII in his case).  At precisely 11:11:11 on this day 11/11 we paused for a 2 minute silence.  After this we all remained quiet in awe of the fighter planes over head in formation with one plane missing.  A beautiful service ended with a single bag pipper playing Amazing Grace, joined by a second on the next verse followed by several more pippers.  It was the most touching of all Rememberance Day services I have attended to date.  Maybe because it was somewhere new, maybe because of the war going on right now in Iraq and Afganistan, or just maybe because for the first time I truely understood the meaning of the day.  Thank you for sharing this beautiful article.  Love you twin.

wfhbear said...

Thanks for that. Regards, Bill.