Did you run today? I didn’t. In fact, I didn’t even wear running shoes to work, and I am always in my running shoes. Today, I traded them in for my dress shoes – shocking, I know – and my “big girl” clothes.
There are so many days that I find myself reminding the boys and girls in my classes about how lucky we are to live in Canada. Either they have moved to Canada, or their parents did, or their grandparents, or….In my eyes, Canada and the United States are still new nations and all of our families immigrated recently (relative to the time frame of World History). When I read and listen to today’s current events in Syria and the Middle East, I am so grateful that I live in Canada and I am raising my children in a free nation. It is hard to explain this to children. I don’t want to scare them but I do want to make them understand.
So I make a big deal about Remembrance Day. We have a lovely assembly at school and I make a point of getting dressed up for it. My students notice. It makes them think about the day and realize “Yes, we need to remember.”
This morning at breakfast, my 9 year old complained about missing gym class because of his school’s Remembrance Day Assembly. “Do you understand why you have that assembly?” I asked, and I got a quick reply about having to remember the people who fought in the war. “I want to show you something. Wait here.”
Minutes later, I was sitting beside him with pictures from my father’s family. My dad, who passed away in April, was from Newfoundland and two of his brothers went to Europe during World War II. I told the Littlest Dude that Newfoundland wasn’t even a part of Canada at that time (Newfoundland was its own dominion until 1949, when it became the 10th province of Canada) but Europe was in such trouble that when Canada went to fight with Britain, Newfoundland joined. I reminded him of the day his granddad proudly told him about his one brother, who was a navigator of a plane called Sierra Sue, and his other who was a medic. My dude was entranced by these pictures, accompanied by a newspaper article about them in their town’s local paper. He turned the page and saw photos of their medals. On the next page, he started to read a letter. I almost took it away – almost.
“That’s the letter they sent your grandparents to tell them that your uncle died.”
Eyes focused on the typewriter text. No expression. He was so blank that I thought he might start to cry. “Are you still reading?” I asked. He replied with a simple “yes”.
Finally, he looked up. “Wow. That would be an awful job – having to write all of these letters. They would have written thousands. I mean….” The Littlest Dude turned back a page to look at the picture of the medals and announced, “I’m going to go to school today and I’m going to tell my friends about my grand-uncles. That’s who they are, right?”
A picture says a thousand words but these said so much more. They gave my son a understanding that no book or assembly could have done. This morning, World War II became real.
Because of my uncles and thousands of other men and women around the world who have fought and continue to stand for peace, I live in a free country. For that, I am grateful. I am thankful for the things that I have, for being able to dream about goals, and run. And that is why, today, I traded in my running shoes for my dress shoes.