Editor, The Times:
Here are some thoughts for Remembrance Day.
The Old Man’s Tears.
There are few who notice the tears upon his cheek, as he stands to attention the best his body can.
Amid his comrades who stand shoulder to shoulder awaiting the next orders in a long enduring silence. The sounds of war distant now, the sky does not rain with terror and fill the men with fear.
Nearby in the woods chirps a cheerful bird delighting in the early dawn song. The air is fresh and chill, not so cold as to rob the soul of life as it once was. The earth no longer rumbles from the presence of the machine of war.
Forgotten sounds filter through the mist on this morning. Sounds that go unnoticed, nearly forgotten.
The old man raises his arm in a formal salute finding a strength that has long passed. Trembling, he holds the salute to honor those before him. He salutes them as he has done so many times before, but deep down he knows this will be the last time, the last salute.
He was a simple prairie boy who until he was 16, never ventured far from his home amid the wheat fields.
Until he told a lie that changed his life forever. Growing up on the farm he was tall and strong and he the told the man before him he was 18. They signed him up.
They trained him and all those like him and sent them off to war. To war in a place he had never heard off till he set foot on the land.
Now so much has past. He thought of all those he met , all those he befriended. He thought of his friend Will who had never even kissed a girl. He himself had not either. Then the darkness and swirling fog filled his mind and spared him from remembering those days.
The pain to great to bear. He thought of them now sheltered amid the ground that was so familiar to them so many endless hours and days ago. He lowered his arm and through his tears he walked haltingly to the gate.
His ears picking up the distant trumpeters lament.. At the the gate stood a young woman and a precious child. Her tender beseeching eyes seeking answers.
“Great grandfather. do you know all these men?”
He answered in not much more than a whisper. “ I did not know them all but they were my brothers”
“Why are they here?” she asked.
“They were called upon to step up to a task beyond measure, and they paid a terrible price for it.”
“ Great grandfather, why do you visit them here?”
He leaned toward her, as much as his old body would allow. “I come to honor them, because all who lay here now did not get to do the one thing that I got do.
I got to go home, they did not. They did not return to their families, they did not get to grow old and have children and grandchildren and great grandchildren. They lay here mostly forgotten by those who live in the tumultuous present. Unaware of the sacrifice all here once made. Do not let them be forgotten”