Remembrance Day is so often associated with the past, a long ago loss that we must not forget. We must also not forget that today will be tomorrow’s past & to honour those that have yet to give their lives for us, or have in-fact dedicated them to us.
Ottawa itself, and Canada as a whole, suffered the recent loss of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo & Geneviève Guilbault in random acts of terrorism within our home borders.
Although their reusme is not one of loss my step-father was in the military in the explosives division, & my mother also served for 25 years.
Their stories are so close to my heart today for Remembrance Day.
Here, as well, are a couple family stories that you usually only find in the movies.
Story #1: July 2nd, 1915 Samuel James Bothwell enlists into the Canadian military to join the First World War. He joins the 1st Canadian Mounted Rifles (Saskatchewan Regiment) & goes on to fight in Somme the following year with Mr. Burgeon and another man of an Unknown name. The unknown man ends up in critical condition, and is sent home to his family farm in Ontario when his arm is rendered useless from shrapnel. Mr. Burgeon and Mjr. Bothwell continue on in their duties which lead them to the Battle of Vimy Ridge, a battle that takes the life of Mjr. Bothwell on April 9th 1917. Mr Burgeon survives and finally finds his way back home. Fast forward a number of years later to present day… Mjr. Bothwell was my great-great grandfather and for a short time Mr. Burgeon’s great-grandson was one of my closest friends. A few years ago, and I will forever regret not getting this man’s name, I ran into an elderly gentleman trying to pick out a card for his wife at the local Shoppers. Speaking of his 50 year long marriage quickly turned into family history and the war, and how his father was the unnamed man in my story, and after his injuries had to give up his family farm because he could no longer work the land due to his mangled arm.
Story #2: A good number of years ago my family was going through some of my great-grandmother’s keepsakes (Mr. Bothwell’s daughter). Her husband, Joseph Nichol Dory, had joined the Second World War as a pilot and she had kept their love letters. While going through them however we notice that the signed name is different from that of my great-grandfather. Obviously this caused a little concern until she explained to us how he had joined the war so young that he had in-fact created a fake ID & had to keep up appearances. I’m a little fuzzy on his part in the war, but as a pilots live expectancy wasn’t that great back then I assume he wasn’t on the front lines as he survived the war. The story still ends in heartbreak however as in 1951, a few short years after the war ended, he was killed in a bush plane accident while on a hunting trip leaving behind my great-grandmother and her young daughter. My Great-grandmother never remarried.
The cost of freedom is all to often the highest price. Today I not only remember those that came before me, but I live for them. I live the life they fought for, and they life they gave me.