Charmed is not a way I expect to feel on Remembrance Day. It’s an important day, full of big thoughts. War and peace, they’re pertinent now. Honor for all those who could be so selfless as to risk or lose their life for people they had never even met, that’s a big deal. We owe them our respect.
How do I balance this in my own life with my wish for peace, my prayers that people can find a better way to work out differences, that no more people have to die to resolve world conflicts. I know this is where the ‘white poppy’ concept comes from, and I respect that, but I think it’s more complex than the colour of your lapel flower.
All these thoughts, and here I was at the Shea Heights War Memorial on Friday past. Freezing hands making me wish I’d broken out the mittens, watching a marching band of cadets move towards me as their friends and neighbours laughed, cried and took pictures of the procession. My abstract agonizing had taken a backseat to the scene playing out before me. I found myself feeling more than a bit charmed by the company I found myself in.
These are clearly people who love and support each other, and have no fear of showing each other what they are feeling. That sort of bond makes even sad things kind of beautiful, because you are experiencing them as a community, not alone.
From government to veterans, each representative who laid a wreath was accompanied by a community youth. Most special to me was that with each name of a fallen Shea Heights soldier read on the roll call, a member of the family came forth to pin their poppy on the cross. I bawled.
Melissa Earles-Druken, who emceed the event, told me the youth participation is very important to her. The young people are the future of the community. This was echoed by Seamus O’ Reagan.
There was no mourning without music, friends, and food to ease the load. In the adjacent community center refreshments were served after the ceremony. Jim Earle, a Shea Heights elder and musician, gave us some songs.
The display of cookies and sandwiches was perfect for a crowd, with the vibe that maybe a church auxiliary of some long distant past had dusted off their rolling pins, stocked up on the condensed milk and cold cuts, and gone right to work.
I didn’t leave with any new answers on the bigger questions of war and peace. That’s okay, because what I did leave with with a feeling that as long as we can build a community that loves and includes all its members, that we can share our feelings ( and ham sandwiches) with, we may just figure it out yet.