Stories of Remembrance
Published Friday, November 9, 2012 6:05PM EST
Last Updated Sunday, November 11, 2012 12:16PM EST
Here are some of the Remembrance Day stories viewers and readers have shared with CTV News, as Canadians honour their veterans and fallen soldiers:
I found the Remembrance Day Service very poignant, very emotional. I appreciate the loss of lives and those that have been fortunate enough to return to help make Canada a free country and our privilege for democracy. If it were not for these men and women, we may not have the good fortune to be here today. My only suggestion, if I may, would be to acknowledge the veterans of the Korean War and to have an interpreter for the aboriginals when their representative spoke to the nation. I was born here and I am proud to be a Canadian.
It is early Sunday morning here in the north. Today is a sombre day for many around the world. It is a day of reflection and remembering each countries part in all the wars. It is not easy for those who are getting on in age. We must for their sake and for the sake of those who returned take 2 minutes of silence. This is the absolute least we can do for the men, women, families, those innocent citizens who suffered or died and for the bravery of our animal kingdom, as they too, played a vital part in the wars.
I would also request that you remember my son in law. Yes, he was one of the soldiers who returned home from the war conflict in Afghanistan. He left with pride and a true eagerness to defend his country, to help restore democracy in a country stifled in their ways. I must tell you he returned with one less comrade. You see one of his buddies died while in service overseas. How can we understand this young man's pain? We cannot, it's as simple as that.
The Army may do their best to desensitize young minds from the horrors of war, past and present however they cannot erase the images the soldiers were a witness to during their tour of duty. Many say it was their choice. Yes, it was however without them we would have to defend ourselves. One just has to look at our past worldwide record to see what happens when civilians are left to their own devices. Neighbours turn on neighbours, friends turn on friends and family turns on family.
Also, you may know this young man returned, got married and now is the proud father of a little baby boy. I'm a Grandma. I wish to remain a Grandma for a very long time. It is hoped that my daughter, who you all know has been active in the Reserves, her husband and now the wee one will never have to be a witness to such a travesty in the future. I'm all good with Canada's military remaining a peacekeeping force, helping in disaster and comforting when need be. The ugliness of war is something I do not desire any of them to go through again.
At this time I thank my son in laws' family for letting go of their son, for sitting by anxiously waiting, hoping and perhaps praying for their son's safe return. He returned however in my view at a cost. Not at the expense of his family rather at the expense of losing his buddy, his friend. Many soldiers died, came home maimed and the families were left to pick up the pieces of their fragile lives. To them I will remember.
Please dear family wear the poppy proudly on your shirt, blouse, sweater or coat. No matter what you think of war push it all aside and remember your sister's son in law, her daughter and the wee new baby who has blessed this young soldier's life immensely. We must join forces if only in thought and look after those we love.
Yes, today I will remember my son in law, my daughter, their baby and the countless other soldiers who gave their lives. I will stand in silence for those still in conflict, for the innocent, the children and for the families who gave up so much. Please, join me at 11 am today and stand in honour of our Canadian troops past and present and for this fine young man and his new young family. And may God bless our soldiers everywhere.
Thank you for taking the time to read the above article. Love to all!
I know that I am not the only child of a military man. My dad served in the Korean War. We moved every 3 years. I remember many years watching the parades on the many bases we lived in. I have even taken my kids out of school to attend services in the city I live in now. I am now a proud mother of a son who is in the army and a daughter in law that is at basic training. A few years ago I took 2 of my other kids to CFB Borden for the ceremony. I believe that we should thank these brave people every day not just once a year. Thank you.
I have a great-grandfather that served in World War 1, in which he received a British War Medal and a Victory Medal. He joined in 1916 and was ranked as a Private and had an honorable discharge. My great-grandfather's name is Nicholas King from the Kainai (Blood) Reserve. Knowing what he did made me realize what a huge contribution First Nations made during the Great War.
My Father -- a WW2 veteran from the British army and who immigrated to Canada after the war -- is in a care home now. He turns 93 in a few weeks... Although his memory is failing, his remembrance of WW2 is still vivid as if it were yesterday. He told me last week that Nov 8th, 1942 was the anniversary of his landing in North Africa. And I reminded dad that was 70 years ago... he looked at me and said, I guess your ole man is getting old... although he is too frail to attend our local Remembrance Day service in Saskatoon he watches on TV... Dad, "We Will Remember"
In 2007, my husband and I were planning a vacation to England. My Grandmother mused about whether we would be traveling close to Gloucestershire, where her youngest brother, Harold Ward, is buried. He was an air gunner who was killed during WWII. She was the oldest of 5 kids -- 4 brothers -- and she used to tell me that Harold was her favourite...he was so kind and handsome. We decided to make a special trip, for my Grandmother -- who had often expressed a wish to visit his gravesite, but the years did not allow it.
We researched his location via the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. We ordered a wreath for pick-up in a small town outside of Stonehenge. We managed to find the store in the town, and, after some dedicated searching in an expansive Gloucestershire cemetery, we located Harold. I was the first and only member of my family to visit his final resting place, and my Grandmother is eternally grateful. When she speaks about it, she has tears in her eyes. It is one of the best gifts I have ever given someone.
I was able to tell her what an amazing job the CWGC does. Every gravesite we saw was immaculately kept -- with beautiful perennials dotting the aisles. This is a wonderful organization that does not seem to be well known; they do important work in treating these final resting places with such respect and grace. I feel privileged to have witnessed a part of my family's history and to have provided my Grandmother with a measure of peace - that someone finally came to say good-bye and thank you to Harold. Lest we forget,
My memory of remembrance goes back to Niagara Falls, Ont. in 1945, when Victory in Europe had been achieved. In October of that year the public schools met around the CNR Station to welcome home a "Train of Troops".
We were lined up with our Canadian flags in hand and waited to see the steamer pull around the curve and nose into the station platform. The regimental band of the Lincoln and Welland Regiment filled the air with military music for this welcome home. I believe our cheers, and screaming of “welcome home heroes” could have been heard across the river onto the American shores.
A welcome like this, especially by so many young children, was a first and has never been repeated again.
After all these years this memory is constant and one that will never fade but with each passing year gets clearer and brighter.
We are a nation of heroes, from the Bour War to Afghanistan. Lest we forget. We must pass the torch with each generation so that we are a nation that will never forget.
Robert Paul Kneeshaw
I thought I would tell my nieces and nephews a little about their Grandpa Herriott in World War ll.
Dad served with the Canadian Army from April 8th, 1942 until March of 1946. When he signed up he was with the 1622 Saskatchewan Horse Regiment but was later transferred to the B.C. regiment called the Duke of Connaughts Own.
Dad, Trooper Thompson Herriott, was a radio operator in a tank when it was shelled by the Germans on March 9, 1945 near Veen, Germany. It was also on that date that he was taken as a POW (Prisoner of War). He was held as a POW until April 3 or 4, 1945 when their camp was freed by the Americans.
When the war ended and Dad was on his way home he had Christmas dinner in England in 1945 and arrived in Halifax on New Year’s Day 1946. Dad tells me they had to stay on the ship until January 2 before they could begin their 30-day leave. He was discharged in March of 1946.
Last year, around the end of November, I had the honour of meeting Mr. Thomas Simpson. He was the gunner in the tank with Dad. When you look at the tank crew picture, he is standing behind Dad. Dad had talked to Mr. Simpson on the phone but never did see him again after the war. Mr. Simpson told me a little about the day their tank was shelled. He told me that after a tank was struck like that, the crew only had seconds to get out before it burst into flames.
He went on to tell me all the crew except Dad got out immediately, he had been knocked unconscious. Another member of the crew was going back in to get Dad, when Dad yelled out and told him to get away from the tank and that he was on his way out. He got out just a second or two before the tank caught fire. Mr. Simpson was, I believe, the most seriously injured in the crew. His left arm was almost cut right off; he showed me the terrible scarring and damage on his arm.
Mr. Simpson then went on to tell me how Dad took care of him the rest of the day as they lay in the trenches. Dad wrapped his arm and made him as comfortable as possible. Later that day they were captured by the Germans and taken as POWs and Mr. Simpson was taken to the camp infirmary. Mr. Simpson spoke very highly of Dad and wished they could have met again. Unfortunately, I was visiting him at the cancer clinic. He returned home to Quesnel just before Christmas last year but sadly died in February of this year. It was a great privilege to have met him. The stories he told me about the war and about my Dad make me even prouder of Dad then I was before.
I hope my nieces and nephews will stop whatever they are doing tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. and honour their Grandpa, Mr. Simpson and all the other young men and women that went to war for this country and those serving Canada around the world today, with 2 minutes of silence. It would even be better if they could attend a local Remembrance Day service.
Three years ago, I was at the airport in Quebec City waiting for our flight back to Toronto. While looking at planes coming and going I noticed a hearse driving toward the back of an airplane that had just landed, along with an escort of soldiers.
It quickly became apparent that the body of a soldier had arrived. I have often watched on the news, the departure of bodies from Afghanistan and their arrivals in Canada, as well as how people gathered over the 401 to show their respect but none of this had prepared me for how I felt at the sight of the coffin coming out of the plane.
I was moved to tears at the sight of that coffin covered with the Canadian flag, and by the respect being shown to that soldier, though there was no camera on them.
I immediately stood up and remained silent until the hearse was out of sight. I was not the only one who did this. Everyone in the waiting area stood up and remained silent. You could feel the respect being shown to that unknown soldier. It is an experience that I will never forget.
Since then, Remembrance Day has a different meaning to me, more a comprehension of why it is so important to remember and a real appreciation of the sacrifices of soldiers.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share this experience with you.
I am a Silver Cross mother and I will be attending two Remembrance Day services this year and laying a wreath for all Silver Cross mothers. I will remember my son Andrew who died in 2004 while serving in Bosnia.
As a child in the 50s we would get the day off school for Remembrance Day. My mom and the kids would always sit in front of the black and white TV and watch the Remembrance Day ceremonies while dad, who fought in the war, went off to work.
He went overseas in 1944 at the age of 19, as a Sapper in the Royal Canadian Engineer, the first in and last out soldiers of battle. He was one of the lucky ones who returned to his young wife. They lived on to have seven children, 20 grandchildren and 27 great-grandchildren. Mom passed in 2008 and my dad is now 88.
Remembrance Day always makes him sad but we are all very proud of him and thankful that he fought for the greater good of mankind and for our freedom.
November 11 -- Remembrance Day, Armistice Day, Veteran’s Day -- whatever you call it, for me it holds deep and very emotional feelings. My father served as an artillery gunner in WWII, posted overseas from his birthplace of St. Catharines, Ontario to England and then into Italy and Northern Africa. Each year as I see the rolls of proud service people grow ever smaller I find I cannot control the tears. Tears for a time in history that was unique, tears for sacrifices made and lives lost and perhaps in a way, tears for a time of innocence, ironically, lost forever. I was born a decade after the war ended, but its stories as retold by my parents have made it a vivid and entrenched part of who I am.
Fiercely Canadian and proud of it, my father enlisted within days of war being declared that September of 1939. Did he have any idea of what he was facing – that the struggle would last almost 6 years? In hindsight the stories he told, within children’s inquisitive hearing, were mainly of humourous events and the camaraderie enjoyed. No doubt, that only scratched the surface of what his memories held. The demons were there and mostly held at bay over the years.
Probably the most relevant and endearing story of that time is how he and my mother met. Katie was a very independent and single, bank teller living in London with her widowed mother. When the call came to offer billets and friendships for newly arrived Canadian soldiers the two women readily agreed to do their part for the war effort. The fact they would have trained and brave Canadian soldiers in the home surely had nothing to do with their offer of accommodation.
The afternoon arrived for their first meeting and my mother and grandmother prepared to welcome my father, Ralph, and his soldier friend into their home where all was set for afternoon tea. No sooner had introductions been made than the all too familiar whistle of a falling bomb was heard. Taking it in stride the women were relatively nonchalant and prepared for the ensuing explosion. When the dust settled the brave Canadian soldiers had disappeared, only to sheepishly emerge a few moments later from underneath the dining room table. Brave soldiers indeed! Fortunately Katie and Ralph got past that awkward moment to begin a relationship that ended with marriage after the war and life for my mother here in Canada. But that’s a story for another day.
Both have passed on now and some days, especially at this time of year, it would be wonderful to hear their voices again and listen even more attentively to their stories and the unspoken words between the lines of those days.
I wear the red poppy with pride, and even if I lose a dozen of them over the next few days, I’ll never begrudge dropping coins into the box held by a veteran or other representative of the Royal Canadian Legion – it’s but a very small homage to my parents and others of their generation for putting their lives on hold so that my generation could have a life of relative peace. Likewise I offer my full support and thanks to our service people of today and agree with the bumper sticker – “If you don’t want to stand behind our forces, feel free to stand in front of them.”
To all of you I say Thank You and God Bless.
Quite correctly, a lot of attention is paid around Remembrance Day to those Canadians who gave their lives during wartime.
There are, however, other groups who get little or no attention.
There are in Canada veterans who served in Armed Forces other than Canadian ones, those who served but were not called upon to participate in military action, and those whose military occupations were hazardous even if very necessary.
I belong to all three groups. I served 10 years in the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy - entirely during the Cold War. I saw no action and therefore have no medals. Throughout that time I was trained and ready to do whatever was necessary. The aircraft I flew (the de Havilland Sea Vixen), although an excellent all-weather fighter, had some unpleasant characteristics. De Havilland built 114 of them and 54 air crew members lost their lives flying it (it had a crew of two), all without seeing any action. Seven of those were friends of mine. I also was involved in an accident from which I was very fortunate to escape with my life; that accident only cost me my career, not my life.
Remembrance therefore is about those seven friends.
Thank you for the opportunity to "sound-off" about a subject close to my heart.
My father would be 98 now. He served during WWII in Sicily and Italy. I was still in my 20s when he passed away and I heard his war-stories from the time I was a little girl. But I am only now truly appreciating what he gave up as a young man all those years ago. It is sad that it took another war to bring that home to me. He has been gone 25 years now and what I would give to tell him how proud I am of what he did for us. So for all our veterans, including our most recent from Afghanistan I say THANK YOU. And I know if my father were alive today he would be so very proud of all the young men and woman who have made sacrifices, especially the ultimate sacrifice, for the benefit of this country he loved so much.
I am very thankful every day for our freedom. We are able to live our lives to the fullest because of the brave men and women that put their lives on the line.
I have volunteered and worked at Sunnybrook’s Veterans’ Centre for a few years now. I feel amazing when I can help a resident with a task or just sit and talk to them. I cherish every moment at the veterans’ centre and have met so many inspirational people. I have learned so many great life lessons from the veterans. They have taught me to never give up on my dreams and to always fight for what you believe in. I love being a part of the veterans’ centre community. They inspire me every day and always make me feel so welcomed.
Words cannot express how grateful we are for the men and women who have served our country. It's an honour and privilege getting to know the veterans of Sunnybrook Hospital. Thank you for being such great role models!