My great grandfather was a naval pilot in the First World War. Yes, navy pilot. Almost an oxymoron. But he flew observance missions across the English Channel. And he made it home.
Other than himself (Clem) and my uncle Joe, I’m not sure of any other direct blood relatives of mine who was active in the military.
And my family, Canadians with pride and unabashed patriotism, are indebted to the daughters and sons of other people’s families for protecting and preserving our democracy and nationhood.
So today, while my wife and I and our kids were standing in a moment of silence alongside our neighbours and community members with backs bracing against the cold wind, it was my great grandfather and all the other men and women who served that held my thoughts hostage. Part of me wanted to complain about cold toes, but then I was consumed by the thoughts of the absolute atrocities that our military men and women witnessed and endured so that I could stand there free and proud, so that I could have the warm and safe home to retreat to afterwards. And then I stopped thinking of my toes and remembered.