Nov 11, 2010

Poppy Pride

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!

That same day they found a Nazi base and overtook it. My grandfather ripped down one of the giant Nazi flags that hung out the front and kept it. He had shown it to me – and a few other remnants from the war that he kept safely in a beat-up old cylindrical tin, which also included a newspaper from June 6, 1944 (D-Day). When he took the flag out of the tin, I took in a big gasp – but it wasn’t of shock or horror of seeing that terrible red, white and black symbol – but rather it was my chest filling with pride. Pride for my grandfather, and I almost started to cry. It was at that moment that it all became real for me. He had risked his life with the belief that he was fighting to make the world a better place for... well... me.

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.


  1. what a great post. I always wear my poppy even though now I live in Switzerland, i am one of only a handful who do. There's no Remembrance Day in Switzerland because the Swiss have nothing to remember. (as I explained in my post today)

  2. Beautiful! It is so important to share the connections we have to our soldiers and to their stories...lest we forget...

  3. It's a very touching post and I can feel the emotion in your writing. I wear my poppy with pride and it helps me to know that the terrible things that happened were not in vain.

  4. They had the minute silence on the radio here and then the last post played. And I cried. As I was driving. Not good. But that is what the last post does to me and even more so since the passing of my grandfather who served in World War 2 in New Guinea. A lovely post. Lest we Forget

  5. What a great post. My grandparents were both children in the war in Russia and migrated to Australia shortly after. They don't talk about it often but when they do their stories always shock me. Its scary to think what some people can do to other human beings, but days like memorial day make us remember the fighting spirit.

  6. What a fascinating piece of history your Grandfather gave you.

    Today I too focus on my amazing Grandfathers and how they risked their lives so that I could have a future.

    Thank you to all the veterans and soldiers . . . you are truly the bravest of the brave.


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