Whether you are celebrating Armistice Day, Veterans Day, Remembrance Day or one of the many other national observances, November 11th is a special day to reflect on the sacrifices made by the brave people who defended and continue to defend peace throughout the world. I thought for today’s Friday Update I would relay an experience I had when I was in high school (some years ago).

I was living in Germany (my father was in the military) and our class went on a ‘Battlefield Trip’.  This was a 10-day trip through Germany, Belgium, France and England to visit some of the historically important sites in these countries. We travelled to the Sommes, Vimy, Flanders, Verdun, Dieppe and Normandy, as well as Allied and German cemeteries and the War Museum in London.

I especially remember three things from this visit that I still reflect on — more than 40 years later.

  1. When we were at the Beaches of Normandy, a young man came up to us and said he had seen our buses and wondered if we were connected to the Canadian Military. Our teachers explained that this was a school trip touring First World War and Second World War sites in Europe, and that our parents were serving in the Canadian military.  The man said if it were not for the Canadian and Allied soldiers he didn’t know if he would even be alive. He then told us he owned a restaurant up the hill and wanted to give us food. Several people came down the hill about 10 minutes later carrying a picnic feast of French bread, meats, cheeses and bottles of water for the 53 of us on the trip.  Reflecting on this some years later, I realized that he was probably eight or 10 years old during the war.
  2. When we were at Vimy Ridge, the teachers gave each of us a red rose to place on the grave of a soldier killed in the battle.  Being somewhat overwhelmed at this point, I went to the closest grave and placed my rose on the ground close to the grave marker. When I looked up at it, the grave was that of Pvt. Henderson.
  3. Probably the most poignant memory for me was when one of our teachers read Lt. Col. John McCrae’s ‘In Flanders Fields’ as we stood together in Flanders Fields.

Many wars and conflicts have happened throughout the world. Unfortunately, some are occurring right now. I encourage you to reflect on the sacrifices made for our freedom.

The following sites from Encyclopedia Britannica are a place to start reading about the two World Wars.



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