Lest we forget – How can we?

The newspaper headlines, now faded and yellowed with age, read ‘Germany Defeated.’

The newspaper headlines, now faded and yellowed with age, read ‘Germany Defeated.’

The story goes onto say “unconditional surrender terms signed at 2:41 a.m. May 7. Hostilities ceased at 11:01 p.m. Central European Time, May 8.

Surrender ratified in Berlin.

The story is written in a local newspaper. The date is May 9, 1945.

Every year about this time, I re-read this story. And every year, as I pin a blood red poppy to my jacket, I feel humble, proud and grateful simply because I can.

It is almost time, once again, for Remembrance Day. Poppies. Blood red symbols of what went on before. Lest we forget.

Part of my job as a reporter is interviewing veterans. Humbly asking them to reach into the past and shake off the dust of memories that have stayed undisturbed for year.

They are gentle, kind, and mellowed with age, these veterans, grandfathers, great grandfathers. And sometimes, if I’m very lucky they will talk to me.

And in the telling, they allow me to go there with them, to no man’s land, to places where fear lived hand in hand with courage.

And as they take me with them to those long ago days where theirs was a nameless face among thousands of other nameless faces who fought on the front lines, in the trenches and stared death down face to face, there is always an invisible thread of pride woven into the pictures they paint.

Fierce. Unwavering. Strong.

The guns are silenced now. The uniforms have long since been packed away.

But etched deep inside, the memories will never die.

The short life story of one such war veteran holds special interest to me because we shared the same birth father.

I never met him, but I have read and re-read his diary.

Richard Wellington Warden was killed March 9, 1944 during a night take-off on the east/west runway at RAF Station Einshmer, five miles east of Hader, Palestine. He is buried in the Khayt Beach War Cemetery, Israel. He was 21 years old.

I think about him sometimes, especially now, as Nov. 11 rolls around again.

I think about the entries he wrote in his diary.

He didn’t write about war, or medals or honor or even being afraid.

He wrote about girls. Buddies. The thrill of flying.

Mostly he wrote about coming home. That’s really all he wanted. He didn’t want to be in a stinking war where the stench of the dying that littered the battlefield threatened to choke those who were living still.

He wanted to be home – to smell the fragrance of spring, taste the sweetness of his girl’s kiss, hear his brother’s laughter, see the smoke curling out of the chimney of the old farm house.

But he never came home.

“We regret to inform you,” the telegram said. “Your son lost his life during flying operations at 2 a.m. on March 9, 1944.

The telegraph my father received that day brought the grim reality of war to a little Alberta town where the first crocuses of spring were just beginning to peak through the brittle white crust of winter snow.

I think about that young man and how history, with maddening regularity, seems to repeats itself. I think about the young men and women who have died in Afghanistan. And I think about the wives and husbands and parents who wait.

And, this year once again, I pin a blood red poppy on my jacket.

Lest we forget. How can we?

— On The Other Side

 

Just Posted

Wolf Creek Schools raises Treaty 6 flag for first time

Chiefs, school officials took part in a ceremony that is aimed at acknowledging Treaty 6 land

Federal and provincial governments partner in investing in Valley View Manor

Government officials take part in grand opening of Valley View Manor

Valley View Manor hosts grand opening

Rimbey’s beautiful new facility celebrated

The characters between the lines

Remembering newspaper greats!

Live bear cam: Let the fishing begin

Watch bears in Alaska’s Katmai National Park catch their dinner live.

Trudeau urges leaders to follow Nelson Mandela’s example at UN tribute

Peace summit in New York marks 100th birthday of former South African president

Senate seats filled in B.C., Saskatchewan

Canada’s newest senators are the first woman to lead the RCMP and a Cree Metis businessman

Newfoundland’s popular ‘merb’ys’ calendar is back

The calendar of burly, bearded mermen posing against scenic backdrops for charity returns

Suspect in Wetaskiwin trunk kidnapping arrested

Ponoka RCMP seek arrest warrants for suspects of armed robbery as well

Yowza! Twerk, emoji and facepalm are added to Scrabble dictionary, OK?

Merriam-Webster has announced 300 new words have been added to the spelling game

Man attempts to stop fight in Wetaskiwin, gets stabbed: RCMP

Wetaskiwin RCMP looking for two suspects involved in assault with a weapon

Cities make power play for new fiscal order with eye to 2019 federal election

Trudeau ordered Champagne to talk with provinces and territories about ways to “address the timeliness of the flow of funds” to projects.

Trump drains oxygen from Trudeau foreign policy with PM, Freeland bound for UN

A lot has changed since the Liberals came to power in Canada in 2015

Most Read