To my grandsons Kieran and Aiden.
This is Remembrance Day, November 11th 2011, and I have been having some thoughts today which I wanted to pass to you. I believe you are old enough to understand and if not, to ask questions.
This is the day when we are to remember those men and women who gave their lives for their countries believing that they and their countries were on the right side. Here in Canada, as in other countries, we tend to remember only our own men and women, but I have over the last few years been thinking not only of my own family but of all families from every country who lost their loved ones in war. I have met a pilot from Germany from WW2 and he was a man the same age as my father, with a wonderful family and they fed me in the south of France when I ran out of money. He was a human being as our First Nations People say.
For me in the 2nd World War, which was my mother’s and father’s generation’s war, there were 5 men, 2 brothers for my mother and two more brothers for my father. All those men, my father and 4 uncles, took part in WW2. 3 survived and 2 died.
My father’s brother died in England flying an airplane using a new on board radar system which was being tested. Unfortunately they had it hooked up backwards and instead of flying away from mountain in the dark, he flew into the mountain. I do not understand why they didn’t test it during the day when he could see, but they did not and my uncle Frederick died. To make it worse my father was one of those scientists who was working on the new radar. He didn’t say very much about it.
My mother’s brother was sent in a plane to parachute into Holland behind the enemy lines to try and help the Dutch resistance. Again, unfortunately, the plan was leaked and the Germans were waiting for them and not one man arrived on the ground alive…my uncle Peter was one of them.
Yes it is important to protect all of us against what we think is evil, and in your Kung Fu lessons you are getting a taste of that in what you are taught about bullying and how to protect yourselves and others from it.
One of the things I have learned is that most wars are not brought about by hatred, but rather by a collection of cruel men (and women) who use something called propaganda to create passions of hatred and fear where none existed. Today, there are advertisements for games of war on TV along with images of people being beaten by police or killed by terrorists, this is what creates the passions of fear and hate and not love for one another.
That is propaganda.
The difference between you and the boys from Japan, China, Germany, Russia and India are only really the colour of your skin and the language you speak. You all want to play and learn, so we should let you instead of creating the desire to kill even if it is only a video game or the fear of being different.
The town in which I was born, Southampton in England, was attacked during the war almost every night. It was a mere few miles, or kilometers if you wish, from Portsmouth which was and still is a huge Naval Base. Some lights were left on to fool the enemy into thinking it was Portsmouth and the result is that Southampton was very badly damaged and had to be rebuilt after the war. I showed your sister Shelby where the old High Street used to be inside the old castle walls and now it is new shopping centers, walk ways for people and commercial buildings. The old walls still remain, but not in the way I remember them as a very small boy. So when in your games you blow up buildings and destroy towns, I think of my town of birth. Maybe that’s another reason why I don’t like those video games.
Today, I went to Island View Beach and sat on a log and smoked a cigar and thought about not only my uncles but those I went to school with who have been killed in war, and I wept for them.
If you ask why I don’t go to the public ceremonies anymore it’s because they are now, I think, politicized and made into religious events and only serve to create passion for what our armed forces are doing now.
There is no way I can stand in a crowd of people who believe that dropping bombs from modern planes on unarmed and unsuspecting men, women and children, in the name of protecting them is what Canadians or any human beings should be doing. Yes civilians have always suffered in war, usually high numbers of them but wars, particularly today’s wars, are only about money and people are used as the excuse. To hear war and death being glorified and prayers being offered to one god or another for the success of those wars about money is more than I can stand.
So I go alone to the flag pole at Beacon Hill Park, or this year Island View Beach, and if one year you wish to come with me I will be happy to take you.
Your loving granpa.