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!
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Thank you for being the light that you are!
Love and Light,