Working with elementary school age children gives me a unique opportunity to share my love of history. I am a firm believer that we cannot understand today unless we know something about yesterday. With this in mind, about this time last year we had the privilege of having a Canadian Veteran visit our classroom. “Granddad G.”, is the grandfather of one the girls. “Granddad G.” told the group of his experience in WWII. His job was to fly Canadian built military aircraft from Canada to Europe. He spoke of the many adventures he and his fellow soldiers had flying in the black of night, often in subzero temperatures, trying to avoid detection by the enemy. The children enjoyed his stories and looking at a large map to see the routes he had taken. Of course they were also quite curious about the medals he wore on his blazer. The visit was a great opportunity to learn, firsthand, what kind of things went on during WWII.
This year I faced a dilemma. Unfortunately, “Granddad G.” has experienced a few health setbacks in recent months. He had been hospitalized for quite a while and only returned home two weeks ago. I mentioned to his granddaughter with all our sniffles and various ailments, it might be better, health wise, if “Granddad G.” does not visit right now and that I would ask our local Legion to send out a guest speaker. I suggested that perhaps her grandpa could visit in the spring or next Remembrance Day. She looked at me as tears welled up in her eyes and uttered the words “he may not be here next Remembrance Day”. A ten year old understands the sad reality of the situation. Eventually, for all our Veterans, time marches on and their heroic tales go with them to the grave...on this afternoon, in Room 104, the words of John McCrae meant more to me than ever before: "To you from failing hands we throw the torch; be yours to hold it high”.
Tomorrow, please honour our Veterans with two minutes of silence.
We owe our Veterans a debt that cannot be repaid. Please listen to their stories and pass them on to younger generations.