Natalie:(nods head, turns back to Dan, excited) Two guys have ascended five miles into the sky! They walked up a wall of ice, and are preparing to knock on the door of heaven itself! There’s really no end to what we can do! You know what the trick is?
Natalie: Get in the game.
– Sports Night, “The Quality of Mercy at 29K”
This week has been a week of awareness. I’ve noticed many, many news stories about organizations and campaigns that give people the opportunity to get involved in something that can make a difference in the world we live in, and in the world our kids and grandkids will live in. Often times, it doesn’t take much, it’s fun, and even though your part is a small part, together, as a whole, we can be huge instruments for change.
So I am writing about some of these things here in my little corner of the internet. Maybe something will twig with you. Maybe something will have some resonance in your life. Maybe something will inspire you to get in the game.
On Saturday, here in Canada, it is Remembrance Day. A day for us to remember all the men and women who served in wars to help the people of the world preserve their ways of life, their safety, and their homelands. They didn’t have to. They could have left the people who were overrun by invading forces and evil dictatorships to deal with it themselves. They could have abandoned them to their fates.
They did not. They got in the game.
Some of them were still in their teens. My uncle, Tom Barnett, at the age of 16, took his older brother’s ID and signed up for duty in WWII. He was then known as Alfred Barnett, he was officially 19, and he was shipped off to Italy. He did not think twice about his decision. He knew there was a job to be done. Sure, there was some sort of romance in going off to war then; the world was younger and more innocent. We didn’t see the horrors of war on television, as entertainment, live and in colour like we do now. And there, in some battle in Italy, the 17-year-old Tom was killed and was buried under another man’s name.
So many kids died in those wars. So many families were torn apart. So many soldiers continue to die, some in causes that are questionable at best. But all of them are giving their lives for a sense of duty, for a need to stand up and do something. We have peacekeepers the world over, doing a dirty job in sometimes ungrateful lands. Remembrance Day is one day, ONE DAY in the year, when we can show these people we ARE grateful, that we DO remember the selfless service they have done and continue to do.
I come from a straggly, often reluctant line of military men and women. Something about Remembrance Day gets to me. I cry every year when I see the old veterans, in uniform, chests puffed out and full of medals, so proud. I think of how young, how scared they must have been. I think of so many young kids, dying alone in some god-forsaken foreign place, wanting only to see their loved ones one last time. I think how different the world would have been, had these women and men not decided to do something, to take action for a cause.
And so yesterday, when I saw this article in the Toronto Star newspaper about poppies, I realized that it did not take much at all to get involved, to show your support for something worthwhile. Buying a red poppy for Remembrance Day is one of the easiest things you can do to show support for one of the most valuable causes that has been around for a long time. Yes, you’re going to get poked by the pins. And yes, the poppies always fall off. So, if that happens, you grab another dollar, and you buy another one. A couple of dollars is a small price to pay to thank someone for being prepared and willing to give the ultimate sacrifice.
So, on Saturday, take two minutes at 11 am to remember. Be thankful for what you have. Be thankful that you never had war on your doorstep. Be thankful for those who have been willing to keep the world safe, to protect what they love and hold dear. Remember those who died on some battlefield somewhere, and those who have returned to tell the tales. Shake a veteran’s hand. Thank them. Mean it.
And wear a red poppy.