Each Remembrance Day, I think of 3 things (usually in this order):
1. Mr. Miles. It’s easy to take memorial-type holidays for granted when you have no personal stake in it. Several years ago, I had a very personal stake in the welfare of deployed troops. What would have normally been one of the happiest times of my life was actually one of the loneliest and scariest. I had no idea what he was facing on the other side of the world. The chance to talk to him on the phone, even for 5 minutes, became more valuable than money. I would kick myself for days after if I missed one of those calls. Mr. Miles had a lot of close calls. At any of those points in time, I easily could have lost him. I am very fortunate; other families and spouses were not so fortunate.
2. Pte. Kevin McKay. I can never remember his name, but I can never forget how his story ended. I heard about Pte. McKay not long after Mr. Miles returned home. McKay was killed 2 days before he was scheduled to return home. Two days. Let that sink in a minute. His family probably felt confident that the worst was over. They were probably getting really excited. Maybe they were in final preparations for a “Welcome Home Kevin” party. They were probably relieved that their son would soon be out of the war-torn country and safe at home. And then he was taken. Even thinking about it brings tears to my eyes. I cannot imagine the level of grief they felt. It’s one thing to be on pins and needles for however many months hoping your relative is okay. It’s a whole other level to have held on for that long and to have your patience rewarded with death. Every Remembrance Day I think about Pte. McKay’s family and friends.
3. World War soldiers. The World War soldiers didn’t have most of the luxuries we have today. Communication took much longer. People didn’t talk about or prepare for PTSD. And there wasn’t a great survival rate. These soldiers were some of the bravest. They fought in spite of the hardships. I don’t know that they even expected to come back; and I think it’s safe to say they weren’t in it for the danger pay. They were fighting for the good of the people.
So, this Remembrance Day, please take a moment to think about and thank those who were lost, whether in body, mind, or spirit.