As Canadians, we celebrate Thanksgiving in mid-October. The Americans do it on the 4th Thursday in November. In between comes November 11th. That is the day when we should say the biggest thank you of all.
Thank You seems like such an inadequate phrase when you think of what Remembrance Day means. Baby Boomers like me should be forever thankful when we think about the carefree days we enjoyed in our late teens and early twenties. I pushed a lawnmower to pay for my tuition and books as a university student.
At that same age, my father and three of my uncles were in Europe. They weren’t backpacking as many of my pals did in the 60’s and 70’s. They were in uniform, carrying a deadly weapon. There was at least a 50-50 chance that they would never return to see their loved ones.
The most serious family casualty was Uncle John, dad’s youngest brother. He was very seriously wounded when a mortar shell exploded beside him. They all came home and took care of families and helped build communities after the war. They were truly the Greatest Generation as Tom Brokaw and others have described them.
In more recent times, I was blessed to know Brigadier General Hugh Comack. He died earlier this year at the age of 92. He emigrated to Canada from Scotland at the age of eight. On a sunny August day in 1942 Hugh was a 21 year old signalman with the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders. He was one of the 5,000 Canadians who went ashore at Dieppe on that horrible day. He was one of only a few hundred who got off the beach uninjured and back to England.
Hugh Comack suffered no physical harm, but his carefree youthful innocence was taken away, and it never returned. It’s easy to criticize when campaigns like Dieppe, and more recent battles in places like Afghanistan go horribly wrong because of poor planning and risk assessment by the brass hats. But we must always be thankful to those who were there in harm’s way.
We will remember them.
I’m Roger Currie