remembering, honoring, and forgiveness

Tomorrow is Remembrance Day.
I remember as a small kid bringing my dollar (it was paper money back then) to school so I could wear a poppy, and then going to assembly to have 2 minutes of silence. I don’t remember much else. There may have been a recording of a bugle, and there might have been a reading of Flanders Fields, but all I really remember is standing for 2 agonizingly long minutes in uncomfortable silence as I tried not to fidget or tease my friends next to me.

Those two minutes of discomfort made the event important and sacred.

Even though I didn’t totally understand, I knew there was something meaningful happening, so I should be still and quiet to honor it.

In Canada, for many generations we have been insulated from war on our doorstep.

We haven’t had to worry about our homes being bombed, food and water rations, or running away from our homes, and lives, with only our clothes on our backs. We also haven’t had to watch hundreds of our friends, family, neighbors, and spouses leave for war to fight for our lives knowing we may never see them again. But this is reality in too many parts of the world right now.

We have heroes among us who willingly join the armed forces to fight for democracy, freedom, and equality.

The very things we often take for granted because we’ve never known anything else. 

We are so lucky to live here.

I have not yet lost anyone to war, but I’ve born witness for students whose sons fought in Iraq. I’ve seen their fear and stress as they waited for phone calls just to know their baby was alive, and shared in their joy when they found out they were coming home.

Both of my grandfather’s fought for Finland’s freedom in WWII.

My parents taught me pride for their country’s freedom (I was born in Canada), and have shared many stories of war that they remember as children.

I called my mom this morning to have her share a few of her memories with us.

She told me about Kemi (her home town) being bombed and having to flee to live with another family in Southern Finland.

When they returned home after the war, Kemi was destroyed.

After the war mom’s dad moved to Rovaniemi to rebuild it, and recalls that there was only 5 houses left standing in the whole city, the rest were simply basements with a chimney. A year later my mom, her siblings, and her mom moved into a rebuilt basement to join her dad in Rovaniemi.

It took 3 more years before they had a home.

My Mom also shared a story of the most beautiful thing she had ever eaten: an orange.

It was after the war when she was six or seven years old. She remembers taking the segments out piece by piece with her older sister marveling at what a miraculous food it was.

To her there was nothing better.

This is still such a vivid memory to her, and she laughs every time she tells it!

The other piece of Remembrance Day I choose to focus on is forgiveness, because without forgiveness there is no hope of anything different.

I dream of a world that no longer has the need for war: a world that is tolerant, peaceful, and free, and that starts in each one of our hearts.

“Forgiveness means giving up all hope of a better past.” – Lily Tomlin

Forgiveness is so crucial because we are tied to whatever we hate or fear. Whatever we are tied to also binds our children, and our children’s children. The cycle just continues.

Let the hate stop here.

It’s not easy. It can be one of the hardest burdens to let go of because our hurts can become ingrained in our identity and how we see the world.

Yet if we really want a world that is free, tolerant, and equal, it starts with each one of us.

As you take your two minutes of silence tomorrow at 11am, I invite you to join me in remembering all those who have died, and those who continue to fight for freedom, and if it feels timely and right, to also open your hands and your heart…and let go.

I always love hearing from you. What are your thoughts, and how do you honor Remembrance Day? Join me in the comments below!

Do you know of someone who should join our Sisterhood? Sharing is caring! Share this on Facebook, Tweet it out loud, or forward to those you love. You can be the light in somebody’s day…you always are in mine. 🙂

Thank you for being the light that you are!

Love and Light,

2 replies
  1. Laurie Norman
    Laurie Norman says:

    Hi Tina, thank for giving me the opportunity to share.

    I grew up in a small prairie town and remember going to the Memorial Hall for the Remembrance Day Service. The older ladies would always be so sad and cry during the moment of silence. The atmosphere was so “heavy” every little kid could feel how important this was.

    My Grandpa fought in WWI in the front lines of France. He was mustard gassed on time, then left for dead at the battle of the Somme, when a fellow Canadian Soldier took his watch off his wrist (He was always angry and bitter about that ). He surely would have died if his friend did not come back and dig him out; as a result of the shrapnel he lost a section of his leg and walked for the rest of his life in Government issued boots; one with a 4″ platform. He spent 3 months in a hospital in England, then visited his home country of Wales before returning to Canada. He never talked bout the war, but when he had a stroke in the early 1980’s he was always fighting the war in his head. I remember visiting him one time at Pioneer Village and he was inconsolable. He was pointing to his window asking us if we could see all those dead Germans, then crying and asking God to forgive him.

    I just finished reading a first hand account of WWI by a Canadian Soldier, William Bird called “Ghosts have Warm Hands”. It was a glimpse at the horrors of that particular war and the terrible conditions the front line soldier’s endured.

    I had two Uncles fight in WWI, one was a Mechanic and he talked about his experiences. The other was in the front lines and a back with the physical scars to prove it.

    My brother recently retired (this week) form the Canadian Military after 25 years of Service as a Medic. He received an award from General Hillier for his work developing a medic training program for the ANA (Afghanistan National Army). More recently he received the Order of Military Merritt from the Governor General of Canada in Rideau Hall last year. I am very proud of him and can relate to having a close family member go off to a war zone and having limited information about their well being, and the challenges of the family left behind. He had a wife and three little kids while stationed in a FOB in Afghanistan for a 6 month tour.

    I will be one of many Canadians who will participate in a Remembrance Day service . I will become weepy when I hear the bag pipes and will have a huge lump in my throat during the moment off silence. Throughout the service I will hold back tears of pride, gratitude and grief. And I will be saddened by the smaller number of Veteran this year.

    And I will be truly grateful for the sacrifice of those who gave their lives and those who still serve so that my son’s only exposure to war is through a video game. Thank you.

    • Tina
      Tina says:

      Wow Laurie, thank you so much for sharing such a beautiful and heartfelt post. I too will be remembering today, and praying, and counting my (and our) many blessings. Much thanks my friend.


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