Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Remembrance Day

So it was 90 years ago today that WWI ended. It was supposed to be the "War to end all wars" but things didn't turn out that way. In recent years it has hit home harder for Canadians (and Americans), for rather obvious reasons. Until 2001, many would probably have called it "the day when we honour those who died so that we can have a holiday in November" (or in Ontario, not even that; almost everything there is open today, even schools). In the US it's called "Veterans' Day", and one can draw one's own conclusions about whether that reflects a difference in attitude between our countries. Tonight I'm going to watch my brother perform in Billy Bishop Goes to War, which is getting excellent reviews. All I know of it is the songs I've heard him play, but it sounds promising.

My own family were very lucky. My maternal grandfather was too young for WWI and too old for WWII, though he had a couple of brothers who were killed in action. My paternal grandfather might well have gone to war in WWII, had it not been for the fact that he was a tugboat captain on the Great Lakes, and as he worked in an essential service he was ineligible for the draft. On the other hand, the father of one of my friends fought in Korea while his mum and siblings pissed away the money he sent home. Despite this, he was never bitter about it, though he didn't talk about his combat experiences.

I'll leave off with the words of Charles Clarence Laking, one of the last veterans of WWI, who died in 2005 at the age of 106:

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