The Last Remembrance Day

Remembrance Day in the Commonwealth, Veterans Day in the U.S.A. November 11, 2020 … a year in which even amidst Covid lockdowns, cenotaphs and statues were defaced, vandalized, toppled by the woke mob seeking to rewrite history, swing the narrative, inaugurate Year Zero.

In the deranged Dominion of Canada, the century-long tradition of the poppy as a symbol of gratitude for the fallen is being co-opted or outright ignored as just another toxic Western cause. Remembrance Day is trending towards cancellation by a progressive oligarchy which, having always enjoyed the freedoms others laid down their lives for, never had to fight for those precious liberties.

I wear the poppy in honour of my grandfather, John Donnelly. An immigrant to Canada from Ireland along with his brother Jimmy, the pair returned to Europe as RCAF soldiers for five bloody years of existential conflict with the Third Reich. They came back from the war broken men, strangers only at home; Jimmy eventually took his life with not a tear shed except maybe from John, a raging alcoholic whom my mother, while still a child, had to bail out from jail after a night’s drinking and brawling.

I knew my my Grandpa as a kind and gentle soul, in truth my hero (having long abandoned the bottle). Sadly for my mother and her younger sister, the trauma he brought into their house afflicted them deeply. What if he’d never gone to fight in the Second World War–might things have turned out differently for them? 55 million souls perished, he survived: yet his soul, as with so many returning veterans, was in some degree mortally wounded. It was only his faith in the Lord that delivered him.

My father being a war buff, from a young age I was interested in WWII, and would query Grandpa about his experiences. His responses were ambivalent. The last time I saw him, he retorted, “I don’t like to talk about it and if I had to do it again I wouldn’t.” In that moment I glimpsed ever so briefly the horror of dark memories behind his eyes. When I left to say goodbye, his last words to me were:

May the road rise up to meet you, may the wind be always at your back, may the Lord keep you in the palm of His hand.

We shook hands, our eyes met, and we just knew: this is the last time. Driving away, I again looked to him as he held my wee son Jonathan, that same sad and certain gaze holding mine. We knew. My grandfather died within the next couple weeks, peacefully in his sleep. We shall meet again.

My grandfather would be deeply offended to know that the outgoing U.S. administration along with its supporters are deemed “Nazis,” especially since he fought against the actual Nazi regime. In actuality, today’s progressives are the progeny of Dr. Goebbels, censorious of all dissenting views. Perhaps the next thing to be canceled will be Remembrance Day.

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