My grandfather lived a full life and was always telling me incredible stories from his past; I’d like to think I get my love for story telling from him. Sometimes, I often wondered how one person could have done all the things he had done – but I guess you can accomplish a lot in 83 years, or at least we would like to think so. He loved hunting, fishing and yelling at the Montreal Canadiens – but as far as occupations went, (just to name a few) he had been a professional football player, a type-setter, Customs officer, and a soldier in World War II.
It was during this time period that he didn’t actually ever divulge too much information. Perhaps he didn’t want to scare me, or perhaps it was too painful for him to recount. He had only told me one story: After they arrived in enemy territory close to the end of the war, his battalion had come across some abandoned Nazi camps and found some of their weapons. He was excited to have found a rifle and for some reason he checked the barrel before sending off a shot in the air. The Nazis must have tried to sabotage these abandoned weapons because it was jammed with what looked to be a ring. If my grandfather hadn’t checked, it would have likely backfired in his face and probably not survived to return to Canada and marry my grandmother... and so on. Talk about a tiny pebble making big ripples!
I still have that flag, but I know there would be no way I could ever put it on display because of what that symbol represents to the rest of the world. I see far beyond the symbol and see it as an object of victory – my grandfather’s victory and my country’s victory, but I realize I have to appreciate that sentiment on my own and leave it inside the tin.
I think about my grandfather a lot and I miss him every day since he passed on February 14, 2004, but every year on November 11, I think about him as a Canadian soldier and what he risked for all of us. It is for him that I wear a poppy today.