Thoughts tumble inside my head playing hide and seek. They tease, giving brief glimpses of themselves, before racing off again. A flash of color, a glimpse of an autumn landscape, or the gray and white portrait of an old friend. This is what’s it’s like to live inside my mind. Many times, there are ten things happening at once. I’m aware of my surroundings. The old familiar hum of the fridge, the comforting tick of the clock as I sit with my chin propped in hand. I need to say something, but I’m not quite sure what it is.
I watched the Remembrance Parade today with a dear friend. I didn’t know I would be going. It was a rather impulsive gesture. We stood in the crook of the road, close to a large cannon. Army trucks, soldiers, veterans and cadets lined the streets. It was a large turn out. The oldest soldier gave a brief speech, as a tiny child broke through the barricade twirling. The little girl couldn’t have been more than two, as she danced amazed by the swirl of her pink frilly skirt.
The elderly soldier never even knew she was there, as he spoke solemnly.
For some reason this seemed profound.
I stood back and watched the rest of the crowd. Ordinary people. People just like me, who had gathered to pay their respects to the brave men and women who fought to keep our country free.
The little girl twirling, the senior leaning on his cane, the man in the business suit, the parents tending children, the teenagers on their phones, the lady singing with such gusto, the bald man, and the woman crying into a handkerchief.
A snapshot of the many people who attended today. People of every size, shape and color. A plane flew overhead interrupting my people watching and then the canon roared. I wasn’t expecting it. There was no warning and it was loud. Very loud. My ears are still ringing.
For a split second I caught a glimpse of what it would be like to stand on the battle field. The thunderous roar of the cannon, the ghost like after math of smoke. A never ending ring in your ears, which is nowhere near as loud as the bang, bang, of your heart. How time must slow right down.
Many lost their lives to save ours.
I have a responsibility to them. One I never quite recognized before today.
It isn’t enough that once a year I pay my respects to the soldiers who lost their lives fighting to keep our country free.
For the truth of it is, we aren’t always free. We aren’t free of ridicule and judgement. We aren’t free to say the Lords prayers, or Merry Christmas, in our schools. We aren’t free in many other ways, that I have absolutely no power over. I’ve never liked being muffled, but I’ve grown a custom to it and I think it’s this, that I was meant to write about.
In the mornings celebration it was easy to pay homage, but what about later? What about the other 364 days?
Each time I stay silent, when my voice is needed, I’m disrespecting the soldiers who fought for my right to be heard.
So today I will take a risk. Just as our soldiers do every day of their life.
I’m not okay with the Lords Prayer being removed from our schools. I believe we need it now, more than we ever did. I’m not okay with bullying and abuse. I’m not okay with enabling others to stay sick. I’m not okay with child abuse and parents who abandon their children. I’m not okay with animal cruelty.
The truth is, there’s a lot I’m not okay with. It’s easy to see the big ones. But there’s a million little things I can stay quiet in too.
It’s so much easier ‘not getting involved’ these days. Maybe it’s the man in line, yelling at the cashier, or your bosses tone of voice. Or maybe someone asks you what you think, and you give them a vague description, telling them nothing of how you really feel. It happens all the time.
Invest nothing. Risk nothing.
Can you imagine if our soldiers did that? Fought our wars half-heatedly. Let the other guy do all the work and take all the risk?
We wouldn’t have the bountiful lives we have today. We wouldn’t have freedom of speech. We wouldn’t have choice.
As I looked upon our veterans, with their bent backs and fragility, I couldn’t help but wonder. Was it worth it? What do they think when they see us, the people, they laid down their lives for?
I can’t pretend to know, but I’d like to ask. I’m curious.
The image of the little girl in the pink skirt comes to mind. What will her future look like? Sometimes I wonder where we as a human race are heading. We’ve developed some bad habits, lazy habits, along the way and we’ve become complacent. At least I have. It’s easy to wait for someone else to fight our battles and right the wrongs. Or to let our soldiers carry all the burden. Easy, but not right.
The next time I see something wrong, or unjust, it won’t be as easy for me to turn a blind eye, or not get involved.
For once you know something, it’s difficult to un-know it.
Lest we forget.
I hope I never do.