This whole week has been one of remembrance, starting on Sunday with a Service of Remembrance at the Christ Church Cathedral. Every year, a list of fallen soldiers who were parishioners at the Cathedral is read; from the Great War through to the recent losses in Afghanistan. Among those is a member of the boys' choir of the Cathedral from around one hundred years ago: Lt. Edmund Gordon Brown. For me, one of the most memorable experiences of this past summer's choir trip to France and England was a graveside performance in Barlin, France (see page 6). The ultimate sacrifice of Canadians serving in France is still much solemnly appreciated almost a century later. We were very moved by the welcome we received in the town, as we were there to pay tribute this former chorister. In Sunday's service, I thought of mothers of previous generations and how, but for the time in which I live, I could be mourning the loss of a son. One does not need to know the deceased, but simply a bit of their story to feel a profound loss.
This photo shows my paternal grandfather as a youth at some point during the First World War. Still too young for active duty in this photo, he is labelled as Scout Thies on the back of the photo. His presence in the photo reminded me of how war made an impact on everyone in his community in the north of England and, with almost an entire generation lost, the whole society.
As a young man, my Grandfather moved to Canada where he was able to fulfill his 'cowboy' dreams and work with horses. During the Second World War, he traveled across the country training Cavalry soldiers. I believe that this photo of my grandfather was taken near the beginning of the War when my Father was very young. My Dad was very lucky that his Father was considered too old to fight overseas during this war and, unlike many boys his age, had a father to raise him after the war was over. Unfortunately, my Grandfather died before I was born, but I remember him through his story retold.
I feel fortunate to have known my Mum's Father who was a squadron leader in the Royal Air Force. He was not inclined to discuss his wartime experiences but I was able to learn his story through my Mum and my Nanan. I try to share all these stories with my children and hope that feel connected to those that served for their country long before they were born, so that they too can remember and appreciate the enormity of dedication and sacrifice of our Armed Forces.