Remembrance Day

Written By Bob Hunt
Image of a poppy on Canadian army fatigues
Photo by Korona Lacasse, via flickr Creative Commons

The weather channel is predicting a colder morning as I pull out a coat I haven’t worn in a long time. I transfer my keys and Blackberry into its pockets and am surprised to find a favorite pen that I thought I had lost.

As the day goes on, I find myself thinking about other things that have gone missing. I pull out my family albums and flip through old photos, searching for warm memories at my grandfather’s cottage. I know the kind of magazine pictures I'm imagining will never be found. The young parents, the exuberant children, the first dive off the dock, indeed, the dock and the cottage itself don’t exist. There are pictures of him in the albums, but none like what I have described. Like so many men and women, my grandfather died as a result of the war.

Sometimes we place photos in albums so that we will remember. Sometimes we place them there so that we will forget. Memories can get lost in the photo albums of our busy lives, but then the weather changes and we find ourselves unexpectedly reconnecting to our past.

November 11th, 1918 was a day when the weather of the whole world changed. With photographers capturing the moment, people took pens and signed documents that ended the First World War.

Each year, UHN holds a Remembrance Day service at each hospital. The last few years at the Princes Margaret, the memorial wreath has been placed by a veteran who is also a patient. Having fought to maintain our freedom, he now shoulders the fight to overcome cancer. His presence with us is very moving. Rising up out of his wheel chair to lay the memorial wreath, he embodies the resilience of the human spirit that chooses sacrifice, honour, and a profound sense of duty.

Will we beat cancer in our life time? Will we find a way to put an end to all wars? Our resolve to do both will be sustained by our ability to remember. We will not forget them because we choose not to forget them.