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    November 10th, 2014

    ♫ It seems a long, long time ago
    A young man far away from home
    Friends made and lost along the way
    Some memories will stay

    Those who died – those who live, you will not forget
    If this year’s your last year – we will not forget…♫

    Lyrics and music by Michael Reynolds, recorded by Felicia Urquhart.

    poppy

     

    This is a guest post from Chris Green of Greenway Legal Centre in Langley, BC.  I have been a fan of Chris’ email newsletter for some time but this post truly struck home for me.   It is reproduced here with his kind permission and approval.   By the way you can subscribe to Chris’ newsletter by visiting his website.

    Our November newsletter each year is always a departure from our usually irreverent and light-hearted banter. It is the one edition that we try to play straight, in deference to the solemnity of our topic: saluting the sacrifices made by our veterans in wars past and present. This year is no exception, especially in light of the cowardly murder of a guard of honour on the steps of our National War Memorial. Last year’s piece, Charlie’s Tree, was one of our most read postings ever, and it recently attracted a link to a new YouTube video, “The Black Sedan”. Scroll down to the comments to watch the Jon and Larry’s video and see if you can spot Charlie’s Tree.

    The tragic events in Ottawa have led to a lot of talk around the water cooler at GreenWay, and interestingly, one of the main themes has been the changing nature of Remembrance Day. Hal commented to me last week, as he completed preparations to lead his youth pipe band to play at the Pitt Meadows Cenotaph, that when he himself had been a young piper in the band, the war still seemed so very real, as his fellow pipers included many veterans of the Second Great War, who treated the annual piping gig at the cenotaph as a personal act of remembrance.

    Like Hal, my younger life was populated with the veterans of both wars, so those conflicts have always seemed more like current events-like headlines from last week’s newspapers, rather than chapters in a history book. One needed to go no further than the dinner table for anecdotes or reminiscences of the war, and the lives of almost all of the adults in my life had been touched by the war, be they parents, grandparents, teachers, employers or mentors.

    In consequence, for them and for me, Remembrance Day has always been a time to remember real people: my father, who fought in Italy, my step father, who stumped around for the rest of his life on an ankle destroyed by shrapnel in France, or Grandfather Green, who once famously summed up the entire First Great War, and surviving the trenches of the Somme, in a single sentence:

    “Yeah, I visited France once – didn’t like it much.”

    As the veteran’s numbers decrease, and we contemplate a time in the not too distant future when we mark the passing of the last veteran of WWII, (just as we recently saluted the passing of my namesake Florence Green, who was officially the last known veteran of WWI, when she passed in 2012,) of necessity, the nature of Remembrance Day changes.

    Increasingly, I think, the day is viewed, at least by younger persons, as an abstract contemplation of the horror of war, or a day to pause and pray for peace. Laudable thoughts for sure, but so very different from putting your elbows on the beer-soaked, terry-towel tablecloth in a smoky Legion hall, in company of those who were actually there, and getting maudlin hoisting a few, to toast those who still live in your memory.

    And for how much longer will those Legion halls, smoky or not, feature prominently in Remembrance Day celebrations? Sadly, despite the fact that this year will likely see record numbers turning out for the wreath-laying ceremonies, it appears that their days are numbered. Once a mainstay of every small town, Legion halls are quietly disappearing everywhere. No vets to visit them and no money to support them.

    Last month, while visiting Ucluelet, I glanced down a side street and noticed a boarded up building with a large For Sale sign – it was the Ucluelet Army, Navy and Air Force Veterans Hall. My trip home took me along Hastings Street in Burnaby, where the wrecking ball has now claimed the former home of Branch 148 of the Royal Canadian Legion. Closer to home, I happen to know that the Port Moody City Hall keeps a ‘development package’ under the front counter, touting the virtues of the Clark Street Legion Hall as a great opportunity for re-development, in case any developer drops in to inquire about possible sites.

    What will Remembrance Day look like, years from now, when there are no veterans of the Great Wars, nor Legion Halls remaining? Until recently, I would have predicted a slow decline – a secular day off with all but a quiet handful of wreath-laying politicians ignoring the meaning of the day, but I think I’ve changed my mind.

    Consider that, with each year of the Afghanistan conflict, as the casualty list grew, so too did the crowds at Remembrance Day ceremonies.

    Then, remarkably, came the spontaneous gatherings on the overpasses along the Highway of Heroes, a moving tribute to the fallen warriors returning home, made more powerful because they were impromptu, home-grown and unsanctioned.

    And then came Cpl. Nathan Cirillo.

    The spirit of Remembrance, if indeed it had begun to wane, has been re-kindled for another generation.

    This year, please, join me at the cenotaph. This year, it’s important.

    Thanks Chris for reminding us of what is important.  Indeed we will not forget…

    This entry was posted on Monday, November 10th, 2014 at 3:11 pm and is filed under Adding Value, Leadership and Strategic Planning, personal focus and renewal, Trends. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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