This past weekend, Deb and I fulfilled a long held promise to visit the Corning Glass Museum located in Upstate New York. The village of Corning, cradled in a deep valley by the western remnants of the Catskill mountains straddles the Chemung River. It is a picturesque throwback to a time of main street prosperity and architectural beauty. One feels comfortably at home immediately... and this feeling is merely confirmed by the congenial and genuine welcome offered to visitors by down town businesses.
I immediately recognized a commonality between Brockville, my home town and this new place. Though the geographical backdrops for each are entirely different... both share a similar and genuine spirit of warmth. Both places are ironically populated by distant relatives. It is an irony created by an earlier war between our two nations... an irreconcilable conflict at the time which necessitated a migration of citizens northward across the St Lawrence River to preserve their beliefs and to create a fledgling new nation... Canada.
Which brings us up to Today... November 11th , 2014.... Remembrance Day in Canada and Veteran's Day in the United States. In the succeeding two and a half centuries since the War of 1812 which divided us... we stand united peacefully as neighbours. Time has succeeded in healing the deep scars inflicted by the conflict that separated us. While war creates causalities and loss... it also simultaneously ushers in the possibility of peaceful coexistence... and freedom. But there is always a price for freedom... "Lest we forget."
This morning at 11:00am, Deb and I will fittingly observe Remembrance Day in our place of birth - Brockville... along with its citizens. Many will likely be people that we grew up with in our early years. Many of the names on the cenotaph... or on the many wreathes to be laid will bear the names of family members familiar to us both. It will be personal and emotionally felt... as it always is for me. However... since July 7th, 2007... Remembrance Day has a face. I will forever remember the face of a boy... lacing up his hockey skates along with my own son Andrew.... now so very long ago.
Captain Matthew Dawe
I will forever remember the image of his wife Tara, son Lucas and his parents sadly, but solemnly enjoined to celebrate the opening of a building bearing his name at Royal Military College, Kingston. These images are the inner scars that I carry personally. I cannot begin to fathom the depth of their common loss and lasting hurt.
This year... yet another face is added to my memory of Remembrance. It will be that of Nathan Cirillo... the Canadian reservist who was struck down senselessly, as he stood guard over the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the National War Memorial in Ottawa. His death underscores an earlier thought offered in this post.
There is always a price for Freedom. Blessed are they who have paid that supreme price on our behalf. Blessed are their families who will carry the weight of that loss in their own lives... forever. They will never forget. The least that each of us can do to honour them... is... to remember and keep the memory of their presence and sacrifice alive.
I am deeply grateful... and blessed by their gift! How about you? Say so....in your own life.