Today we remember the sacrifices that were made so that we could live in freedom and peace. My throat closes up and begins to ache when I take time to consider how many soldiers laid down their lives, bravely marching to certain death in some situations, in order to ensure that I can wake up and go to sleep in a nation which stands for choice and security.
William and I went to Ava's school ceremony yesterday. I knew for a fact that I would cry when I heard In Flanders Fields, as I always have and likely always will. The words are so haunting and beautiful, especially when spoken aloud by a variety of grade five voices. This passage in particular always chokes me up in gratitude and wonder, "We are the dead. Short days ago we lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, loved and were loved, and now we lie in Flanders Fields."
During the last post, played alone by a band student on a horn of some variety, I felt the tears well up again, falling down my cheeks during the two minutes of silence. I held William's hand beside me, and saw Ava up at the front of the high school gymnasium sitting quietly with her classmates, and I thanked God for the freedom and safety of my children. I prayed that they would only know peace during their lifetime, and never live through the atrocities of war. Then of course my mind turned to the many children and adults in war-torn countries right now, at this moment in time, and I prayed for them too.
Our freedom was bought at a great price. It's so good for our kids to be reminded of this, over and over again, and for me to be reminded as well. Being free is not a right that we are guaranteed to own, but a privilege gained by blood, mud, tears and loss. Mothers grieved for sons, wives for husbands, siblings and friends for each other, in losses unimaginable to comprehend, so that I could stand in that gymnasium yesterday and enjoy my freedom. I read once that men didn't fight for a cause or because a General was issuing orders, but for the friend who stood next to them in battle, to keep each other alive to the best of their ability.
This year, freedom means more to me than ever before as I experience it in a new way in my life. Freedom to think and express myself without fear of the consequences offers a different perspective on what it means to be truly free. That right was hard won for me as well, and I'm not completely free of fear in this area, but I'm moving toward being responsible for myself and not for others. I've never felt better and more grateful for this kind of personal liberty.
Living in Canada is a blessing I've never fully understood. Why was I born here, in this country of plenty, to live in safety when so many others are scrabbling for their daily meal, hiding in bomb shelters or living in abject terror and uncertainty? These kinds of inequities have always pricked at my conscience.
I don't understand why the world has to be at war. Have we learned so little from the wars that have gone before? I can't fix all of that and I can't even come close to answering those questions. But I can be grateful for what has been given to me because others didn't back down from defending my right to be free and live in safety. My gratitude is limitless. Today I say, "Thank you," and I remember.