I haven’t written a new blog for a while. I’ve been “out of sorts”. I’m such a wimp! Last Spring, Darlene booked a trip for her bucket list (by the way, I don’t like that expression but works here). She has been talking about this for years. So, October 28th, she left home, meeting up with seventeen other women, all about the same general age, and headed to Indonesia. Code named “Babes In Bali”, their guided tour would take them to three distinct hotels, shopping, tours of temples and villages, an orphanage, an elephant sanctuary, snorkelling in what she described as the clearest water and healthiest coral she’s ever seen. I’m so happy for her. But I’m a man, and as mentioned, I’m a wimp. I’m also a control freak…so yes, I’m a man! Look, this preamble has a point. This trip has been in my head since May. I’m also a bit of a worrier (Darlene just coughed and said “A Bit?”, all the way from Bali) so put all these together with another one; Darlene and I haven’t been apart this long with her gone and me home in 25 years! So, I’m out of sorts.
I was going to write about the ridiculous Halloween Costume Police, but was too angry. Then I was going to write about Donald Trump and I got really angry and if you recall, I made a decision a while back to not “vent” in my blog (Do you know how hard that is?) So I got up on November 11th and knew exactly what I wanted to write about and ironically, it is tied directly to what’s been making me mad! I want to write about “Freedom and Honour”!
My Dad, John Vernon Law, or as he was known, “Jack”, was a veteran of World War II. He was born in 1907 in England, came to Canada by himself in 1923 at sixteen years old and landed at Quebec City after three weeks at sea. He then rode the rails and worked his way West to Canora, Saskatchewan where he met my Mom, Hilda Ehrlich. They were married on January 4, 1930. Dad was, and pardon the pun, a “jack of all trades”. Self taught, he could literally fix anything but his main trade was mechanic. They had John in 1932 and Terry in 1936, who grew up in Canora and graduated high school after which both graduated from military college. John, Royal Military College and Terry, Royal Roads. Terry was in the military for four years and left for a career in chemical engineering and John made a career out of the military leaving as a Brigadier General in late ’70’s. My late father-in-law, Stuart Reitsma was a veteran of the Korean War and my brother in-law, Ron retired from a career in the military two years ago. I actually thought about going into the military as a teenager, but like I said…I’m a wimp!
Although all of the men I mentioned in the previous paragraph were each unique individuals, they all had one thing in common…Honour! I have extremely vivid images of Remembrance Day ceremonies growing up in Yorkton. We never missed. Dad marched in the parade, stood on guard at the Cenotaph then we’d go to the Legion for lunch. Dad and Mom were both members of the Yorkton Legion and we spent a lot of time there. I would go with my Mom who always seemed to be volunteering in the kitchen and I would go with Dad who would sit around, when he had time, reminiscing with other veterans. They all saw combat, they all lost friends and fellow soldiers. They all were profoundly changed by the experience. They were not for “War”…they were for “Freedom”! They were not drafted. They all enlisted. Every one of them walked into a military office and signed up to fight for freedom and democracy. My Dad was easily one of the older veterans in Yorkton. Most of them were just past or in their teens when they went to war. Imagine that? I vividly recall thinking…”I want to be like these men. I want to be like my Dad”. When my Dad died in 2001, there were 800 people at his funeral and included a Legion Honour Guard. Dad was never rich or famous but was simply one of the finest human beings I have ever know. He was the definition of Honour!
Today, twenty somethings are protesting across the United States to loudly shout their anger at the election. “We didn’t vote for Trump so we will not respect the result!” Seriously? Look, I don’t have any respect for Donald Trump either . He is a jerk! He is also now the President Elect of the United States of America. I didn’t celebrate when Rachel Notley and the NDP won the Alberta provincial election in 2015 but I respect democracy. I wouldn’t have voted for Trump either but I also have no respect for Hilary Clinton. Sorry, I should say I have “respect” for their running for office but I’m sure I’m not alone in this…I’m so tired of “politics”! Yet, that’s what World War II was all about. Sorry young people out there, but it seems you have either “forgotten” what Remembrance Day is about, were never taught, or just don’t care. I know that’s not true of all young people and as you may know, I love young people and have made a 35 year career out of speaking to them. Let me also add this isn’t just on the “young”. This is about anyone who has “forgotten” what price was paid for Freedom!
Ironic isn’t it? Here I’m Free to be writing a blog, stating an opinion afforded me by past conflicts and politicians who practice democracy. Yet is feels like we take that for granted. I have stated this over and over and I really mean it. I practice profound Gratitude every single day. Frankly, when you have no arms you must appreciate what you have. That’s what I was taught, largely by John Vernon Law. I often ask my youth audiences a pretty serious question. “Would you walk into a military office and enlist in the military to defend democracy and freedom?” They react predictably. It’s a heavy question. Yet every year, thousands across North America and indeed, the world, sign up for military service. I know they don’t all have an equal share but I believe this is the foundation of Honour. Honour, by the way, is available to “everyone”. It doesn’t do a credit check, ask for religious affiliation, gender or race. Yet Honour seems to be losing the battle. I hope I’m wrong but it just doesn’t seem like Donald Trump possesses any Honour. He’s narcissistic, racist, sexist, homophobic and even made fun of a handicapped reporter. That’s not Honour! That is a Bully! I don’t like Bullies! So now, what really scares me is Trump will in essence give the “green light” to other Bullies. “We Will Make America Great Again” is his rally call. Sorry but America is great. With due respect, it’s also has become a bit narcissistic itself because so many of its population are angry, looking to blame someone and forgetting that if everybody’s looking out for themselves, who wins?
I believe we grow as a society collectively. We put aside our egos, differences and anger and work together with “Honour” for “Freedom”. Remembrance Day is exactly about that. Please “Remember”, “Lest We Forget”!