My Dad is a veteran. He, along with his older brother, my Uncle Vic, served in France, Holland and I think in Germany. My dad was born in 1925; he lied about his age and joined when he was 15; he was 20 years old when the war ended in 1945. Dad never talked about the war much. He hated war movies - my mother loved them and didn't figure she had gotten her money's worth unless she had a good cry. Dad would always get mad because he said the German army was always portrayed as being stupid. Clearly he knew better - he'd always say they were tough, battle hardened fighting men. He'd say too bad the enemy wasn't as stupid as the films made them out be - the war would have ended a lot sooner had that been the case!
Funny the things you remember. Growing up we never had lamb - Dad said he hated it and wouldn't allow it in the house. I never tasted lamb until I was in my 40's. Turns out, dad had had more than his fill of lamb when he was in England. He always said that the lamb he ate was mutton and that the animal had been slaughtered only moments before it would have expired from natural causes anyway - old, tough and fat - ooooooh, now doesn't that sound appetizing?
My dad celebrated his 8Oth birthday in 2004. My younger (and only) brother had his medals mounted and framed for him. My dad's funny about things like that so my brother gave them to him in private. I know dad, he would have been very gruff but would have gotten all choked up about it. He just celebrated his 82nd birthday in March. My brother always says "the old man's slowing down" - well, of course he is, he's 82 years old! He's old, bent and crusty but we love that old man more than you can imagine.
I am so enormously proud of my dad. Recently he took my 28 year old daughter on a tour of the new War Museum in Ottawa. A moment in time that can never be replaced! Vets get in free, so Dad brought his original discharge papers with him to prove he was a Vet. My daughter got a huge kick out of that. She said they were all creased and worn but he proudly pulled them out to show the lady. She was astounded at this. She couldn't believe, nor could my daughter, what a wealth of knowledge my dad had to share with her. It was a wonderful, special time for my daughter and something she will remember and treasure for the rest of her life.
On Remembrance Day - the 11th day of the 11th month, at the 11th hour - at the moment of silence, I'll be thinking of and eternally grateful to my dad. I'll also be thinking about all the other men and women who served and are now serving, fighting and dying, all over the world. Please kieep them in your thoughts and prayers.