November 11, 2010

Remembrance Day Canada 2010

To my Opa, Johannes Bernardus van Leur, who fought in the Dutch Resistance, and had to leave his home country for a new life in Canada. Who died when I was nine and took his stories with him, much to my deep regret.

To Robert Bates, or Uncle Bob -- a surrogate grandfather to me. A man who prefers to be anonymous most of the time. Who joined the war because he needed a job.  Who told me stories of carting body parts from a bombed-out theater in France to temporary morgues for identification, and still looks at his service in Europe as the greatest time of his life. Who stood at Vimy Ridge.

To the man next to me at the cenotaph in St. Catharines today, who identified the planes by their sound, long before any of us could see them. Who hummed along to the old Protestant hymns being played by the brass band.

To the Highlander who played the bag pipes brilliantly.

To the veteran whose hand I shook after the ceremony. A face so mapped with age, and hands so large I imagine them crushing stones in their prime.

To the local men and women who have never come home. From my home town Grand Forks, or from anywhere else.

All of whom are sources of my Canadian pride.

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