Friday, November 11, 2011

String Around My Finger, Poppy Over My Heart

Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.

When I was a little girl, attending my school’s Remembrance Day services, I wore my annual poppy with great pride but little understanding. I was happy for the peace of my beautiful Canada, and I was glad all the soldier-killing wars were far away and long, long gone.
They certainly seemed long gone. Surely, they’d never be necessary again.

Yesterday, decades later, I attended my school’s Remembrance Day ceremony, along with my students. I’m thankful my school chose to emphasize the solemnity and significance of the occasion. I’m glad my students seem much more aware of this day’s meaning, than I was at their age.
I’m sorry, though, for the reasons this day is so relevant to them.

In our day, in our time, Canadian soldiers – both men and women now – are once again travelling to dangerous places around the world, deliberately sacrificing family life, home comforts, and, potentially, their very lives, because of their commitment to keep peace for other people.
The Bible says, “Greater love has no one than this, that one should lay down his life for his friends.”

Our peacekeepers define “friends” very broadly. They consciously, intentionally lay their lives on the line for people whose names they don’t know, whose mother tongues they don’t speak, and whose political histories they’ll never fully understand.

During the two World Wars, Canadian men often joined the armed forces after being drafted. Most went willingly, but usually only after they’d been told to go.
In this decade, the Canadian government no longer requires peacekeepers to join the armed forces. What’s remarkable is that, driven by their own commitment to make the world a better place for others, they go anyway.

Today, with my heart and eyes full, I pause.
I remember.
I say, “Thank you!”
And when tomorrow comes, I pray I will remember then, too.
·         Reenie