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What Would “Willie McBride” Tell Us: Veterans Day 2008

11/10/2008

vetsday082November 11th is the traditional day (WWI ended: 11th hour, 11th day of the 11th month) that American’s pause to remember those who have served, or are serving, in this nation’s military.

p1010011Veterans Day in America, Armistice Day in Europe and Remembrance Day in Canada, has it’s beginnings in 1919 with president Woodrow Wilson.

Recently I’ve been going through and taking stock of the family photo albums and documents.

Among the piles of snap shots was a photo of my Grandfather, tall and young, in uniform astride his horse in France. He’s 18 and it’s the “War to end all Wars”, WWI.

I got to meet my English Grandfather when I was twenty and he rarely talked about his experience in that war. I do know he was “gassed”, which was to effect him in later years, and he spent some time in a German POW Camp but not much else was ever said or spoken.

During WWII he spent his time as a firefighter on the docks of Liverpool and again I never heard many stories of those days either.

Another photo/postcard shows my Great Uncle James in his WWI uniform. Sad to say I never got to meet Uncle James to hear his experiences.

I have many of my Father and Mother in uniform. Dad with the 8th Army Air Corp in WWII and my “Mum” in her RAF uniform as a control tower operator. I even have one with both in uniform together.

Neither of my parents talked much about the war but I bet they made a great looking couple, arm in arm as they walked down the cobblestone streets of Oxford.

During the “Korea Conflict” I remember my Uncle Bob in uniform coming to visit and later Uncle Donn who served abroad and then stayed in the Ohio National Guard as his career.

In one album I found a photo of myself from the 60’s where I was overseas dressed in Air Force “blues.”

I’m sure that I’m like other Americans with many of the same style photo’s and memories of those who went off to answer their “Country’s Call”. Every Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day we bring these photo’s out, get a lump in our throat, and our chest swells with pride and honor: “All Gave Some, Some Gave All.”

But there is one question I wish to ask. How many “Willie McBrides’ ” do we need to lose to stop having to remember?  When does it stop?

“Lest We Forget”

BASIC TRAINING

With some unknown sense
I felt his stare
upon my neck.
He stalk’d me,
trail’d my every move
and now
victory was in his reach.
I turned slowly,
gazed into my enemies eyes
and knew I was finished.
He laughed,
smiled and taunted,
then fired.
I grabbed my burning stomach,
and fell to the ground
still hearing his laughter.
I would get even
after lunch,
for war was only a game
when we were young.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Sandie permalink
    11/10/2008 12:07 pm

    Hello Tristan – it’s Sandie from Denny’s

    Very good question – When DOES it stop?

    You’re a very good writer. Im bookmarking you 🙂

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