November 11 Remembrance Day
“In Flanders Fields, the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place, and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below”
I heard the powerful words that touched my soul and filled my heart with a sorrowful pride. We stood together, apart. On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day in the eleventh month, we stood silent for those that gave their lives so we could breathe freedom and liberty. The men of Kelowna and soldiers all across our great land deserved our respect, today more than many other days…
Today was Remembrance Day.
It was a day in the coronaverse that I thought we may not gather together. These were strange days in our world when we were warned against large groups. I knew that most in-person events had been canceled. For the first time in my life, I had no plan to go to a ceremony to reflect and remember those that gave their lives. Inside I knew I could not let eleven o’clock pass without some form of reflection for those that went before.
We stood atop the building overlooking Okanagan Lake. The wind pushed the water and white caps of foam ripped across the surface. Dark clouds hovered to the north and it looked like another storm was on the horizon. We were looking at a building across from the lake and the view took my breath and hung on to it like a shadow frozen in time.
My friend and I finished our survey of the job and went out of the door. The building was across the street from City Park in downtown Kelowna. I looked at my friend and confirmed it was ten minutes to eleven. Without a second thought, we crossed the street and went into the park.
City Park is home to the cenotaph that memorialized our soldiers from all the wars Canada has fought in. Instinctively we walked across the road toward the memorials to our fallen forbearers. There was somber energy in the air as more and more people walked into the park. It was as if we all came unbidden to join together to pay our respects to the fallen.
A mournful horn echoed into the air. As if called to attention the sun broke through the clouds. Blue sky began to grow overhead and sunshine warmed the snow-covered ground. People stayed a respectful distance apart and connective energy filled the park. My heart filled and my soul felt touched by the presence of those around me. A man wearing a decorated uniform shuffled along showing signs of a life well-lived. A baby cried into the silence as we all stood in the moments of remembrance.
Into the silence began the echoing cries of the bagpipes. A song rang through the air sending notes of sorrow and praise into the skies of the Okanagan. I imagined the souls of the lost soldiers hearing the cry as it rang out from cenotaphs across the world.
The service ended in peace and a sorrowful silence surrounded everyone and we walked quietly away. It was a strangely inspirational, yet simple time that felt genuine in the days of covid. I felt connected to my world and the memory of those that came before. Those men and women sacrificed everything so that we could live in peace and freedom. The least we can do is stay apart and stay safe, most importantly stay kind to each other.
Lest we forget.
“We are the dead, short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch, be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields”