Proud - Ellen Graf-Martin
Child, I’m rarely more proud to be a Canadian than on November 11th. We listen to readings of In Flanders’ Fields as a lone trumpeter plays The Lament, and then the determined yet heart-aching bag piper marches on and on and on. We see live images of stoic, teary-eyed veterans in decreasing numbers year after year as their comrades pass away.

And I’m struck that there is always a cost to those things we unthinkingly enjoy and we rarely pay it ourselves.

On Remembrance Day, we speak proudly of our veterans and rightfully so, we acknowledge their choosing work and a calling that meant sacrifice on our behalf. Rows of white crosses attest that this was often a choice that led to death. For them, the cost was laying down their life on our behalf – no greater love hath man than to lay down life itself. There is something beautiful and heroic and holy about the human heart choosing sacrifice.

But when the clock hits eleven and our moment of silence begins, my heart aches for those who paid – and continue to pay – a life-long cost. Those who received heart-shattering news in an ugly envelope or knock on the door. Mothers who lost sons and daughters. Children who lost parents. Those who returned home, only to realize that they’d never completely be whole again, not after what they’d seen and done and been part of. That part of their soul still lay shattered in a sort of no-man’s land. These ones, we must remember, tasted sacrifice daily or moment by moment, year after year, so that we may taste freedom.

Although the action remembered may be saved for battlefields, war leaves the homefront permanently altered, for better or for worse. Child, what I want you to know and understand deeply is that people we’ll never know took the ‘worse’ so that you could have the ‘better’. Someone else paid the price. You and I have opportunity beyond belief. And I’m so very glad that you’ll likely never know how much that opportunity really cost.

We grumble and complain about the way things are changing, the state of our world, our politicians and how it all seems to be falling apart, but I want you to know deeply that it is right and good and necessary for us to give thanks even in these circumstances because we have no idea of how bad it really could be. We pray for peace, and we give thanks as we remember because we will never really know the cost – and no one ever should have to. It’s an act of worship, Daughter of Mine. Please remember, and when you hear those bagpipes, give thanks.