No other day in the year ushers in stronger feelings of Gratitude for "Me"... than Remembrance Day. It is a day in my year where I always take time to reflect upon the blessings in my life and upon those individuals who have actively created those blessings.
Amongst a very large list of those countless friends and acquaintances who have actively contributed to my Happiness and Well-being are those names who live eternally in the hearts of all citizens of our nation - those who offered and laid down their precious lives and futures to defend and make possible... even in other remote reaches of the world, the precious daily gifts of Freedom that we enjoy daily in the Western World.
"I" am forever Grateful... and will always remember their precious gift to the living!
I have always gone to the cenotaph in whatever place that I have lived in to join with others in Remembrance and Gratitude since I was a young lad... when we were marched en masse as a school to the town centre to be part of this November 11th ritual in Canada. I will without embarrassment admit that I have never been able to participate without being tearful. I have seen family members "fogged out" and misty-eyed as they laid wreathes in memory of lost sons, brothers, daughters, fathers, uncles and grandfathers. Their loss... has always been shared... and is mine.
However, despite the fact that I had two uncles who served in World War II serve and return home wounded... it would not be until July 4th, 2007 that "the face" of war came to visit me personally. Twenty-seven year old Captain Matthew Dawe became that face... when he and five of his comrades simultaneously became names on Canadian casualty rolls and cenotaphs.
Matthew and my son Andrew had been team mates on a team in The Fort Henry Minor Hockey League during the late 1990's... and even then Matthew displayed that magical leadership quality and wonderful sense of loyalty that would place him in a position of military leadership. His father Lt. Colonel Peter Dawe, now retired was the coach of that team. Jan MacDonald and I helped out as assistant coaches... and lace tiers on many early, icy practice mornings. We were a family... not just a hockey team. When Matt was lost... we felt that crush and disbelief as well... and not just for that single tragic moment.
I think of Matt many days.... Andrew and I often reminisce about those frosty morning practices and breakfasts. How ironic is life... that Matt's very large public funeral would take place in The Constantine Arena -- the very place where our relationship began. Fitting I think.... but hardly "fair"! The Universe does indeed work... in mysterious ways! Life continues with reflection and sadness on this Remembrance Day... for Mattew's family... his wife Tara and his wee son Lucas... and each of us.
Today... I head to Midland... a place I have travelled to for seven consecutive years... to honour these fallen heroes. Be sure that "I" will cry... but not totally out of sadness. I will cry because I am proud to have known Matthew and to have shared a part of his meaningful life.
"I" will never forget! "I" am blessed... and Grateful and will pass forward your gift to all of us!