By Kathy MacLean
I remember … the image of my father at 16, a very handsome young man, standing on the platform of a Northern Ontario train station with my grandparents, my grandmother’s face ashen and covered in tears.. a train waiting in the background, an eldest son volunteering to go off to war.
I remember…. the envelope full of photos hidden at the bottom of my parents hope-chest, photos that traveled home with my father from war, photos so horribly graphic that the images still haunt me to this day.
I remember.. many dreary, somber Remembrance Day ceremonies at our local cenotaph, the one day a year where my father would disappear for the entire day without a word. No explanation was necessary, none was expected.
My father’s experience and that of many of the young people of his generation helped shape the fathers and mothers, the uncles and aunts and the grandparents they became. The lessons of duty and sacrifice and of respect, all in the name of freedom, were passed on to their families. That was long ago and so few of them remain.
How do we, a generation largely removed from the battlefields, ensure that these important lessons continue to be shared with our children and grandchildren?
We ensure that the Act of Remembrance continues, through the Cadets and Boy Scouts who have stepped in to sell poppies once sold by their grandparents and through the many Remembrance Day ceremonies being held across this great country of ours.
At the Macdonald Campus of McGill where I work, children from neighboring elementary and high schools, College and University students have joined with university and government officials and Veterans from the Ste. Anne’s Hospital for the Act of Remembrance every year since 2006. The site of the various processions winding their way across the field to the War Memorial site where Veterans from old and recent conflicts and their high school hosts await, is truly touching – and the ceremony, a poignant reminder of the sacrifices that our vets and the men and women in active service, have made for us all. The “Last Post” by a Black Watch bugler gets me every time.
Share the lessons. Lest they forget.
Kathy MacLean is Manager, Planning and Communications at Macdonald Campus
The 2018 Macdonald Campus Remembrance Day Ceremony takes place on Nov. 8. The procession begins at 10:15 a.m. from the Memorial Arch, Raymond Building lobby. The Remembrance Day Ceremony begins at 10:30 a.m. at the War Memorial in front of the Raymond Building. For more information go here.