This year instead of sitting at home, and watching the Remembrance Day ceremonies happening in Ottawa on CBC TV, we went to the Delta Heritage Airpark in Delta, BC to participate in the services there.
It was overcast and gloomy which transformed into pouring rain as the program went on. Nature adding its sentiment to the day. A squadron of Harvards, with 600 hp radial engines, flew overhead in formation, rumbling through the clouds like a hundred Harley Davidsons were riding through the skies. I felt it in my very soul. It was a brief glimpse into a moment in time—like living near an airfield where day after day they took off and at some time later, hopefully, returned.
More often than not, they didn’t. Airmen were on the extinction list during the wars. The history of flight was still in its early stages during the Great War, the War to end all wars, which has been followed by too many more.
At the airfield, people told stories of their family member’s participation in the events. Of their deaths, their injuries, their loss. Poems were read. “In Flanders Fields,” by Lt. Col. John McCrae. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_Flanders_Fields We had to memorize it when I was in school. I’ve never forgotten it. Some things you never do.
My grandfather, Thomas Murray, was in the British Army, during WWI. He, too, was a Lieutenant Colonel. I heard many stories about him. But WWI finally took its toll on his life in the 1940s and he died as a result of the mustard gas poisoning when in the trenches and I never got to meet him.
Remembrance Day is the most spiritual day of the year in Canada. It’s the day when we put aside our differences and contemplate the past, present and future while honouring those who have gone before us. It is not about religion, it is about heart and soul and loss.
We live in a world where loss is a daily occurrence. And its frequency is accelerating. The red poppy is the traditional badge of remembrance, but the white poppy, for those killed who were non-combatants, including the innocent victims of bombing and what is in our time often referred to as “collateral damage,” a term I think takes the reality of the situation and puts it on the back shelf, is also being worn.
In reality, all those lost in War are “collateral damage.” The honourable situation would be to have the leaders of the nations who want to aggress simply duke it out in a field and leave the rest of us out of it. In many of the First Nations, the women were consulted before war was started. There’d be no war if they did that now. No women want to see their families die for political causes. None who I know, anyway.
The purple poppy is also catching on now as people start to honour the loss of so many animals during war. The horses, domestic animals, pets, birds, fish etc. Between bombs and bullets, the decimation of wildlife is incredible during war. And yet, hardly anyone ever thinks about that. From the tiniest worms and insects to large mammals, and those creatures of the air and sea, war kills them all, ruthlessly and without discrimination. In the millions.
If we are ever to stop war, we have to start seeing each other as important and worthy of life. We will have to eliminate evil from our world. I’m not sure that can ever be done, frankly. I think it’s almost impossible.
In the meantime, it goes on, the killing and destruction. There are so many genocides ongoing daily at so many levels, it’s truly heartbreaking. From the genocide of the Earth and its lakes, rivers and oceans, to the genocides of its inhabitants, fish, birds, cows, pigs, sheep and horses. If we can’t stop those things, how can we ever stop the killing of each other. One comes out of the other.
As custodians of the Earth, we are doing a pretty lousy job of taking care of it and its residents. Time to regroup, rethink, reorganize, before there’s nothing left.
I’d like to start wearing the white, purple and red poppies everyday, in honour of those who are being slaughtered daily in the name of civilization. Or perhaps a new poppy, a blend of all three, a pink poppy for peace and remembrance of those lives lost everyday our world refuses to grow up and start loving instead of hating. Maybe it would catch on. A pink poppy for peace and love.
In the meantime, you can change your own world. One little step at a time. Be the peace you wish to see around you. Take note of everything you do and eat. Eat peace not pain. Eat peace not violence. Treat the Earth with love, not violence. Think zero garbage. No plastic. Zero emissions.
Love the air. Love the water. And then love your neighbour as yourself. When you can do that, there will be peace, now, and always.