Sunday, 11 November 2012

I Remember

I got up early today, a small sacrifice. Comparatively. I dressed and took the short drive to the core and stood with hundreds of others around the cenotaph and quietly listened as names were read over a loud speaker. "In memory of..." At one point the speaker cut out or the person speaking was not using the microphone properly. The wind blew across it and it sounded like, what I'm thankfully not sure about, distant shelling. A low rumble. I wondered if the veterans in the crowd were being triggered by it. They all stood stoically, not letting on if it was, or if they were even able to hear it. WWII Vets are quite old, a good number of them probably can't hear all that well.

I stood there listening to the names being read and the families they were associated with. The speaker cut back in so I could hear. And I remembered that some very distant relative of mine died in WWII. The thought just popped into my head. A few seconds later, over the speaker came, "In memory of William Clayfield, on behalf of the Clayfield family." I never ever would have had the chance to know this person. He's a part of a branch of the family that I don't know, but every one of us is related somehow. I just combed through my partially incomplete family tree and I did not see any notes for him, but there were other family members with different surnames that were noted as having served. And even though I have no idea who he was, hearing the name come out of the speaker, struck me. I took a quick breath and my eyes actually welled up with a tear or three.

The names continued to be read. As we approached 11 am and the trumpet began, I felt a small personal connection. I have always been very touched by Remembrance Day ceremonies, even in grade school. I never forget to take my moment of silence no matter where I am at that time of day (at work, driving, I don't care). Since I first learned about this day and why it's important I have had a special respectful place in my mind for those that died. All of them never knowing if they died for a good enough reason. Never knowing if the war would end or knowing their children at home.

I remember in a respectful detached manner. Until today there was absolutely nothing personal connecting me or my family to WWII, not that I knew of. I might have been the only member of the family in that crowd. I hope I'm wrong, since I wouldn't recognize the other branches of the family anyway (my grandfather was one of 11 or 12 brothers).

I refuse to forget.

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