Every year we’re asked to take time to remember those who gave their lives so that we might be free. You were one of them. But I don’t remember you. You died in battle before I was born. You once had a life. People loved you. You loved people.
But I don’t remember you.
I do remember the stories told by those who came back. When I was young, the stories were about the antics you and your comrades got up to during the war, the kind that broke the boredom and mitigated some of the terror. As I matured, the dark and unthinkable began to seep into those story lines.
You saw sights I can’t bring myself to imagine. You felt fear that I have been sheltered from. You endured hardships that made you tough, or broke you down, hardships I have never experienced. And you did not get to come home.
Those of your comrades who did come home were never the same. How could they be? Their experiences had redefined them, made them look at the world they had come from with new and strange eyes.
Many learned to create a new way of being; a new normal, and they enfolded themselves and their families into that safer place. But the memories were always there, lurking somewhere beneath surface. And when they were in danger of bubbling up, those who came back found solace in each other.
Some did not fare as well. Their experiences haunted them. Badly. It was hard for them to find a place of comfort. They lived, but their dreams and their will perished somewhere along the way. And so, while they survived their war, the battle was not yet over for them, not for years afterwards… if ever. These are the ones who might even have thought of you as the lucky one, hard as that may be to imagine. You died suddenly. They died a piece at a time. Tragedy lives in both places.
The popular motto associated with Remembrance Day is “Lest We Forget”. The fact that we in the World have always waged war, tells me we are good at forgetting. Or, perhaps we never knew, and still don’t know, how to be at peace. The important thing for you to know is that we keep trying.
In time, I hope we will find ways to achieve more, even lasting, harmony. In the meantime, we must learn to take better care of your comrades when they come home from whatever hellish situation we place them in. It’s the least we can do. They deserve something that goes beyond the pomp and ceremony of Remembrance Day. Much more. I think you’d agree.
I don’t remember you. But I know you. You died for me and for those who come after me.
I’m very grateful. Thank you. With Love, Gwyn