As a Disney dad, I don’t have a lot of rules for my boy when he’s at home. There’s only one really — attend the Remembrance Day ceremony in downtown Quesnel on Nov. 11
That’s not because I have any personal connection to it. I’ve never fought in a war and my dad was just a bit too young to see action in the Second World War, although he was training as a pilot when the war finally ended.
I can’t name any uncles, aunts or even friends who fought or died in that war, or Korea, Vietnam, Iraq or Afghanistan. It’s hard for me, then, to say I really remember.
I’m lucky that way, I guess.
Even if I can’t personally remember anyone who died in a war though, what I can do is honour the many brave men and women who did.
I honour them because, for some of them, they did what they knew in their hearts needed to be done, even if it meant putting their lives at risk — or worse. Some of them did their jobs even if they knew that if they did they were sure to die.
You have to respect that.
Others, realistically, were drafted or forced by poverty to join the military — there being no other jobs available. They died too.
Still others went willingly enough, but only because they were fooled by whatever lie-du-jour was being spread by the powers that be — whether it be butchered Belgian babies in the First World War, infants being ripped from Kuwaiti incubators in the First Gulf War or weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
I think it’s important to honour those poor souls, too.
Besides never losing someone in a war — to my knowledge — I’m lucky in another way, too.
For the past 23 Novembers I’ve interviewed veterans for the annual Remembrance Day supplements at the various newspapers I’ve worked for.
Even though I’m only telling other people’s stories, being exposed to their moments of courage, fear, doubt, outrage, triumph and tragedies is pretty potent stuff and after that many stories, it starts to sink in.
It changes you.
Along with the honouring those who came before me on Remembrance Day, I feel I am uniquely blessed to be able to spare at least a little corner of my heart for those men and women who, over the years, have shared their stories with me — and through me, to my readers.
For those veterans, whether we had our chat in Fort St. James, Vanderhoof, Quesnel, Parksville, Qualicum Beach or Bowser, I can truly say I shall remember them.
Thank you for that.
Neil Horner is the assistant editor of The News and a regular columnist