Friday, November 11, 2005

Gratitude and Respect

My Remembrance Day was spent working in New Hazelton. It is about a forty-five minute drive from Smithers to Hazelton, and on the way there I tuned into BVLD, the local radio station. Reporter Craig Lester interviewed a man named Dave Havard, who served in WW2. It was fascinating to hear his stories of his time overseas. Two things really struck me though. First, Craig asked him to describe some of the hardships of life during wartime. Rather than describe his own hardships as an officer, he responded by discussing what civilian life was like for people in England. When he was stationed there in 1943, the daily bombing raids from the luftwaffe were less intense than they had previously been. However, he recalled a story of a German pilot who had missed his bombing targets. In order to escape quickly and avoid being shot at by his enemy, he dropped his bombs to lighten his load. Unfortunately, he dropped them right on a school. If this had occured two years prior, the school children would not have been there. Early on during the Battle for Britain children had been exiled away from the cities to prevent such tragedy. They had only recently been allowed back to their homes when the bombs fell on this school. Mr Havard recalled the efforts he and his fellow officers pu in to rescue the survivors.

Towards the end of the interview, Mr Havard was asked about the sacrifice he made. His answer was truly stunning. This is as exact of a quote as I can recall,

"Well, I think it is only a sacrifice if you know you are sacrificing something. I was a teenager, fresh out of high school, and when I walked past the base in Victoria I thought it would be fun, so I joined up. I didn't know what I was getting myself into. Sure, life wasn't easy for those two years, but I can't say I really sacrificed anything. In order for it to be a sacrifice, I would have had to be giving up something, and know that I was giving it up. There are a lot of people who really did sacrifice, but I can't say I did."

In case any of you are wondering why we remember on this day.
In case you may be thinking about why we call them heroes.
In case you take for granted the freedoms you hold dear.
In case those 'boring' Remembrance Day programs on television annoy you.
And in case you didn't pause for a moment to remember, here is one example of why we do it.

We remember because there and men and women who sacrificed. Many gave up their very lives for freedom. Your freedom. My freedom. Our freedom. They did not do it to receive accolades, and in Dave Havard's case, they desire none today.

A true hero does what needs to be done, then gives the credit to others.

Nothing I could ever say or do would be enough to thank them. But I will thank them anyways. And I will take a moment of silence. And I will remember.

As I said before, I spent the day working in Hazelton. I was able to earn extra money today because it is a holiday. Without the brave souls who fought and won in wars past, I would not have had the opportunities I have as a Canadian. What a privilege. What a fantastic gift to give.

I can never repay.

Vimy Ridge. D-Day. Liberation of Holland. Korean War.