A couple of days ago I was reminded that Remembrance Day is almost upon us when a friend posted a lovely performance on Facebook. Ted Comiskey is the man who wrote and performed Red Petalled Flower. He encourages people to watch, listen and download his amazing composition.
I recognized the setting behind him. That’s one of the famous Harvard airplanes from WWII and they are housed with great care at Tillsonburg Airport, close to where I live. You can actually fly in one on certain special days (if you have the fee.)
I clicked to start Ted’s performance. Quietly his voice took my attention and the video started. I thought of my three uncles who fought in the Second World War; one of them did not come home. All my life I’ve experienced that loss on more Remembrance Days than I can remember; but still the stories and the songs and the photos and the movies and “In Flanders Fields” touch deep inside me. My writer’s imagination means I feel, and feel deeply, the pain of all those who lived through that time.
As a Girl Guide I stood at attention at the cenotaph in my small village and witnessed the wreaths being placed against the grey monument. As a high school student I dressed in my cadet uniform complete with black tights and crisp white blouse to stand rigid in the long centre hall of Woodstock Collegiate while the trumpet played. As an adult I stood by the cenotaph wherever we lived and watched the grey-haired veterans march from the past to salute their comrades who did not survive. In many different churches I sang the hymns and heard McCrae’s immortal words:
“Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.”
And now we are here again. In November. As the winds and falling leaves begin their chorus. Every warm breeze is a gift. Winter stalks us all. And two days from now is Remembrance Day. I press the key to start the video. Music is always my deepest way to feel. The voice is soft but strong…
And now I share it with you.
Click on the image below:
This year I will be at the cenotaph again watching my sister do her duty as Woodstock’s Silver Cross mother. Her son fought in Afghanistan and, though he came home, he was damaged forever after. Andrew Jackson died a few months ago at 37, a casualty of that war and the PTSD it gave him. I’ll be thinking of my sister’s family and of all the families with similar stories. And I’ll wear my red poppy.
Now play the song again and think of all of the red petalled flowers all over the world.