I just had one of the most humbling walks ever. I am not on my normal shift today at the radio station, so I was able to take Eliot, Pearl and Primrose for a good long walk. They go tired, so I brought them home and I went back out to enjoy the weather. I got behind an old man with a walker and he was listening to music from the 40’s/50’s. It was loud, really really loud and I knew he was listening to Artie Shaw. I don’t know why but it made me smile.
As I started to pass him, I took a quick look and he was wearing a Canadian military pin, so I said thank you. The music was loud and he did not hear what I said, so I got a bit closer to him and said thank you one more time. He turned down his Ipod( he explained that his kids bought it for him, filled it with music and taught him how to use it) and said “You’re welcome” but almost in the form of a question. I said that I wanted to say thank you for being in the military especially on Remembrance Day and for keeping Canada free. My new friend was one of the lucky Canadian servicemen who was saved off the shore of Dunkirk back in 1940. He went back to Europe when the Allied forces invaded the beaches for D-Day. He stood a little taller and spoke a little stronger as he shared his story with me. He told me about the young lady who waited at home for him and who he is still married to today. He talked about the friends he lost and the friends who were injured and left the front. My friend talked and talked about his experience and how he hopes it never happens again, a war of such great magnitude. I could only shake my head in agreement.
As his story started to wind down, I asked him a question – As a veteran, what is it that you want from the world today? He sat down on his walker and didn’t say a word for a few moments. I was worried that I had offended him and then he looked at me and answered. He said he wants people to remember the story on Remembrance/Veteran’s Day but more importantly, he said people need to remember throughout the year. But he said not just to remember the veterans, but those the war impacted as well. There were civilians who lost everything, people were uprooted because of being Japanese in Canada. He said that what we have to do is to remember that we are all human and we all want the same thing. He reminded me that I was walking freely on the road, not just because of him but because of countless men/women/children who died in battles. And then he just stopped and said…………..”Just remember everyone!”
I shook his hand. It was pale, spotted and frail but for that brief moment when I said thank you again, he squeezed it quite tightly and said ……”Just remember everyone!”