Regular readers of this space know today is Remembrance Day (i.e., Veterans Day in the United States), and that today there is a single entry that has nothing to do with K-12 distance education, online learning, or blended learning.
From 2010 to 2014 my thoughts on this day have primarily reflected upon my grandfather – Samuel Barbour, a World War II veteran of the “A” Battery of the 59th (Newfoundland) Heavy Regiment of Britain’s Royal Artillery (see We Will Remember, We Will Remember Them; A Dreaded Day Of Remembrance; Samuel Barbour [1920-2013], Canada Remembers…, Remembrance Day At Home, and Lest We Forget…). Last year I spoke about Canada’s involvement in the Vietnam War (see Remembering Canada’s Unknown War).
Over the past two years, I have tried to observe Remembrance Day – or Veteran’s Day – in the United States. For example, in the days leading up to the eleventh in 2014 I attended an event at Sacred Heart University in honour of Rabbi Skorka during the commemoration of Kristallnacht and Tim Maggart’s New American Freedom Train show. In 2015, I attended the second annual Veterans Day assembly at Israel Putnam School and I also had the opportunity to attend the municipal services in Hamden, CT when three names were added to the memorial wall (two recently discovered deceased POWs from Vietnam and one soldier lost in Operation Enduring Freedom – Afghanistan).
Today I will be attending a Veterans Day Ceremony organized by the student government association at Touro University, California at the flagpole in front of the old Mare Island Naval Hospital (one of the advantages of having your campus located on a former naval base). Tomorrow I will be attending the memorial services for a longtime comrade of the Royal Canadian Legion – Western United States Zone Branch #25 (Belmont), which serves the Bay Area here in California. On Sunday, my comrades and I will be representing the branch at the Festival of Remembrance occurring at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco.
Regardless of where you are today, at 11:11am please pause for two minutes of silence.
Each year I close with the words that are being recited all across the British Commonwealth today. However, this year I also wanted to include a reading of the poem by veterans, Defence team members, cadets and members of the public.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders Fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders Fields.
– John McCrae
Finally, since this great Canadian passed away yesterday, I also wanted to share this version of the poem.