November 11, 2009

Lest We Forget

Have you seen the flags of Freedom
what color are they now,
Do you think that you believe in yours
more than they in theirs somehow...

Neil Young, Flags of Freedom

November 11th is always bittersweet. On the one hand, it's a day off. On the other, it's a day off in honour of those who died in war, to preserve the freedom we generally take for granted. I feel the weight of that. For years, I didn't really think of the reason behind the holiday and was just glad to have a free day. But as I get older, I become more and more aware of what this day represents. Like I said, I feel the weight.

This morning, same as for the last few years, I took a walk over to the graveyard. R and the dog came with me but we couldn't bring the dog in and R stayed outside the fence. There are quite a few graves of soldiers there and we figured it would be an fitting place to observe our two minutes of silence. A few other people were already there, standing still. Somewhere behind us, maybe from the Regimental buildings by Queens Park, a canon was going off.

I wandered around the graves, reading the names on the markers, sweeping the leaves away from those that were obscured. Behind me, three silver-haired people huddled together around one of the graves. A stooped man and two women in woolen coats. Poppies pinned to lapels. They were holding hands and leaning into each other as if for support. As if they were all sheltering under one umbrella, except it wasn't raining.

What thoughts at heart have you and I
We cannot stop to tell;
But dead or living, drunk or dry,
Soldier, I wish you well.

A.E. Housman

Back at home, pushing away a sense of melancholy, not wanting to waste the day, I printed.

Only a handful of colours left now.

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