Friday, November 11, 2016

November 11th - Remembrance Day/ Veteran's Day

November 11th - Remembrance Day/ Veteran's Day 

I felt compelled to post something on this day when we collectively pause to acknowledge the contributions of all of those who rise to military service, and make such extraordinary sacrifices for our livelihood and statehood. In this brief interlude of meditation and remembrance I cannot help but wonder if I - if we - do justice to their hard-won accomplishments.

I had a flashback of taking my great aunt - Marie Anderson - to a Remembrance Day event many years ago. I so loved how she invested such effort in honoring the contributions of our veterans. She always seemed to look her best on this day, and proudly wore her commemorative poppy as a medal of strength and unceasing dedication to the legacy of our service persons. As the daughter - and last surviving child - of Francis Pegahmagabow, I could feel the continuing love and dedication she bore for her father. Driving her home that day I told her it was good that we could pause and remember. She was quiet for sometime. As we returned to Wasausking, she shared it was also important that we take a moment to forgive this day as well. I included this remembrance in Sounding Thunder. I felt it was an important tribute to my wonderful aunt, and a special insight into the character of her father Francis.

        Marie always remembered how important the Remembrance Day ceremony
was to her father. November was always a special time of pause and
reflection for the Nishnaabe. Francis called this month Niibinaasge-giizis in
Ojibwe (“Moon that shines like the summer sun”) based upon the special
brightness of this time and how far one could see in the dark. It was a time
when even lost shadows could be seen. Remembrance Day for Francis was
about more than being honoured or remembering the lives of his fallen
friends and fellow soldiers; it was also a time to remember those whose lives
he had taken. You had to remember them, he would say, because in your worst
dreams and darkest moments you could never forget them. Remembrance
Day was also thus a much-needed day of forgiveness.

It was in these moments, long outside the calendar year’s day of remembrance,
that Francis would sometimes wear his military uniform and
medals and walk the reserve roads. It was as if he sought to fall back in step
with his younger, more hopeful self who may be better able to help bring an
end to the war. During those short walks, he would again find the meaning
of his war actions and a reaffirmation of the need to keep fighting against
the things that continued to threaten the well-being of his people.

                                                                               (Sounding Thunder, pp. 169-170).

       Statue: Francis Pegahmagabow-Hero of the Great War.  Parry Sound, ON. By Tyler Fauvelle.

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