I grew up during WORLD WAR TWO. I may have been a child but I understood we were a country at war. Canada was defending democracy. We grew victory gardens. Collected metal. Bought war bonds. And coped with food rationing. I remember the heart-breaking day a telegram was delivered to my Grandmother. The official notification of my uncles death.
That year winter came early to my home town of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. On November 11th, 1945 with my classmates I walked in bitter cold the two miles from school to attend the Remembrance Day ceremonies at the Armouries.
If I should die, think only this of me:
That there’s some corner of a foreign field
That is forever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed:
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England’s, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home
And think, this heart,all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given,
Her signs and sounds; dream happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.
” The Soldier” was written by an English poet, Rupert Brooke (2887-1915). He died in the first world war.
My father-in-law grew up in a quiet town in Southern Ontario. He enlisted and his training as a flight sergeant took place in an equally small town in Saskatchewan. This is where he met and married. He returned from the war to live t he rest of his life in Saskatchewan. He is survived by his two sons.
My uncle, Bertram Henry Henderson grew up in my home town, Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. He and his two brothers enlisted in the Regina Rifles. He died in action October 27, 1944. His last letter home was dated October 27, 1944. It was written in the dim light of a candle in a bottle. The letter was in his effects returned to the family.
My older sister and myself with my Uncle Bert shortly before he was shipped overseas.
This document shows the location of his grave in Belgian. It also identifies the family who would be responsible for the maintenance and care of his grave site.
Our Uncle’s grave continues to be looked after by the Belgian Family entrusted in their care more than 70 years ago. Members of that family continue to maintain contact with our family.
My father grew up in a small village in southern England. He fought in the war to end all wars (World War One). When war ended he immigrated to Canada to join his older brothers in Northern Saskatchewan. The only time he talked about the war was to tell us how he had befriended some Turkish prison of war soldiers and they had taught him to make Turkish coffee.
On November 11th we will attend Remembrance Day ceremonies in Ladner village. At 11:00 am we will stand in silence for two minutes remembering those who died for Democracy. The lone bugler will sound “last post” followed by a twenty-one gun salute. Before we depart we will place our red poppies at the base of the cenotaph and bow our heads in respect. We will remember.
43 thoughts on “REMEMBRANCE DAY . . . we will never forget why we live in a democracy today.”
Wonderful images and especially lovely that a family in Belgium looks after his grave. Very touching.. c
Our family still receives letters from this Belgium family. Now the grandchildren tend the grave and write the letters. But, the connection remains.
What a lovely and touching tribute. Waves of melancholy washed over me, as I read and re-read this piece over the past couple of days. Beautifully done, my dear, beautifully done!
Tomorrow is Remembrance Day for Canadians (and those who belong to the Commonwealth), Lar and I will got to the cenotaph in our little village of Ladner. I know I will shed a few tears Tinny.
A beautiful reminder.
We must never forget those who sacrificed their lives for freedom.
Haunting words and photos. How wonderful for those who never knew him to tend the grave.
When we lived in Amsterdam the Dutch sounded the air raid warning (from world war 2) once a week. EVERYONE would stop for two minutes of silence. It was eerie to suddenly see bicycle traffic, people on the street and in the stores… all stop in the tracks until the warning stopped.
I haven’t been able to stop thinking about your post, Virginia. I especially love the photograph of your Uncle with the two children. What a beautiful tribute. Big Hugs, Theadora (So the same family is taking care of his grave? Amazing. Wonderful, too.)
Dearest Theadora. We have just returned from a Remembrance Day ceremony at the cenotaph in our little village. The crowds were enormous. I am sure all of us were thinking of the two Canadian soldiers killed in Ottawa and Quebec a few weeks ago. Shed more than a few tears.
The children in the photograph are my older sister and myself.
Such a beautiful, loving tribute, Virginia! My misty eyes were made moister when I learned a Belgian family tends your uncle’s grave. I had no idea they were so cared for. Resa xoxo
PS Who wrote the wonderful poem?
Resa, the poem was written by Rupert Brooke (l887 – 1915) – an English poet known for his idealistic war sonnets written during the first world war. The photograph of the soldier (my Mother’s younger brother) with myself and my older was taken just before he shipped out. XX V.
Another year has passed, another year we remember.xoxo
Today so many many shared memories and a few tears, dear Resa. XXXOOO Virginia
What a lovely tribute, Virginia. I thought that poem was Brooke’s. My f-i-l landed at Omaha Beach and was also in the Pacific theater, emerging alive but not completely unscathed. We have Veteran’s Day on Wednesday, which is, unlike Memorial Day, for thanking living veterans. But both are always appropriate.
We have much to be grateful for. These men and women gave their lives for freedom.
What a beautiful tribute, Virginia. I’m sure you still miss your uncle. Do you have a favorite memory? Big Hugs, Theadora
Shortly before my Uncle left for overseas he visited our home. He had a gift for my mother. A black Bakelite bracelet studded with rhinestones. I thought it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I continue to look for a similar bracelet in thrift shops and yard sales, Miss T. I believe the bracelet was the beginning of my love for sparkly jewellery et all.
A black Bakelite bracelet studded with rhinestones. What a beautiful memory. I love this story, Virginia.
Virginia, I enjoyed reading this all over again. Your uncle was a handsome man. Hope all’s well with you and yours.
We’ve just returned from a trip to Toronto to visit our grandchildren and great grandchildren. An experience that makes my heart beat faster, Janet. Thank you so very much for asking. XX Virginia
We must never forget.
Again, Love!!! xoxo
It’s always a poignant time. We attended the ceremony at the cenotaph in out small village. There were hundreds of people of all ages. We don’t forget, Resa. XXOO Virginia
Stand easy soldier your time is done
From great tragedy and destruction we are given poetry.
If ww1 was now would we be blogging from the frontline
Those with strength and courage would write with honesty and respect.
Wonderful tribute. So important not to forget our past, and the people who made us who we are.
It is the soldier who has given us all our freedoms. We will never forget.
They bear the burden for all us, and then they try to appear normal afterwards if they manage to come back. We, their families, pay the cost, too.
When post-traumatic-stress is not dealt with properly the fall-out can come in terrible and costly ways. Both the body and the mind must be repaired. It is shameful this neglect persists even with all the knowledge of its dangers.
Third time for me with this post, I think, and I still am moved by it. You might enjoy the two series by Charles Todd, the mother-son writing team that writes so beautifully about WWI and its aftermath. Bess Crawford is a nurse in one series and Ian Rutledge a shell-shocked veteran at Scotland Yard in the other.
Dear Janet, Each year I return to this post and add something new. There has been a great deal of conversation with my younger sister about our Uncle Bert. My sister recently discovered letters he had written to my Grandmother (tucked away with bits and bobs of papers. They were beautifully written and one of them was written on the day he died. It was never delivered. I love the writings of Charles Todd (mother son) and I have read every book they’ve written. Cheers Virginia
What a joy to keep discovering more and more about your family! As for Charles Todd, I’m happy you love their books, too. I’m currently re-reading both series.
This is beautiful. What a wonderful post. It really brings home the poignancy of these losses. Thank you for sharing.
Your readers may also like Ghosts of the Poppies, published on November 10, 2019, as well as For The Fallen, on November 11, 2019, both at https://thethinkingwasp.wordpress.com/
Again, thank you. And I’m now following your amazing blog.
We attend Remembrance Day ceremonies in our small village of Ladner, BC. It is reassuring to be part of the large crowd that gather every year. It is a global. People of every nationality gathered to share in Remembrance Day and I hope for continued peace.
Thanks Auntie Jean for all the great words. Really. Auntie Heather pointed me this way. I’ve thought a lot about Great Uncle Bert these last few months and did my own detailed research on his unit. So I was thrilled to get and be entrusted with Heather’s package to me of Uncle Bert’s “kit”. So very special. I read (several times) that letter you reference (Oct 27, 1944 as written from the dim light of a candle in a bottle) and have chronicled several others he sent to my Grandma Ada – perhaps a dozen or so. Very meaningful to me. The hardship they endured cannot be imagined. Thank you so much for this. I will return
Dearest Breton, I am so happy that you have become the custodian of Uncle Bert’s memories. They are precious and we know entrusting them to you was the best possible way to ensure he is never forgotten. My heartfelt thanks. Love Auntie Jean