today is Remembrance Day in Canada and Veteran’s Day in the United States. this is the day we honour and remember our servicemen and women. we take time to think about the freedom we so take for granted. as an esl instructor part of my responsibility is to teach our newcomers what this special day means to us. therefore, we took time out to watch the ceremony on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.
the ceremony was quite nice. we watched dignitaries arrive, saw them shake hands and salute one another. they showed pictures of veterans; some really old, some young. everyone stood while “O Canada” was being played. we watched and listened as the Last Post was played by a lone trumpet player and everyone was still for the 1 minute at 11:00 while we focused on those that have lost their lives in the line of duty. after the moment of silence was finished and the bagpipes played, a cannon went off.
it wasn’t until a bit after 11:00 that i noticed the box of kleenex was grabbed and given to one of the students. i heard her blow her nose and not wanting to gawk, i allowed the other instructor take look after whatever was going on.
we started in on an activity to finish off the morning and that’s when our student shared…… her story. she escaped from Cambodia. she was pregnant at the time and a Red Cross worker helped her deliver her baby. she was all that was left of her family. both of her parents and all of her siblings died; she was the only one that made it out alive. she said that every time she hears a gun go off, she is afraid and it brings back horrid memories for her. she shared how seeing the veterans upsets her because she knows that her parents and her siblings never grew old.
as i listened to her story, i stood there fighting back the tears and wondering how anyone ever goes on after something like that. it made me think of the freedom i take for granted. i thought about my own parents and how i’ve been blessed to see them mature in their golden years and how they’ve held their grandchildren and hopefully, someday, great-grandchildren. i realized that i take many things for granted.
all i can say is “thank-you” to those who have served. “thank-you” to those who have given their lives so that i can have freedom. i can never thank them personally; i just hope they know they are appreciated and never forgotten.