I once knew a man. Although he was old when I met him, by the twinkle in his eye, I could see glimpses of the young man he had once been.
He was of age upon the onset of the second world war and, like the other men of his community, he was eager to enlist--an eagerness driven by a passion to see the world, and to service his country. He'd wanted to sail from cloud to cloud on the wings of a huge, iron bird. But, it was not to be. Instead of traveling to distant lands--Italy, France, Japan--the man was stationed at a radar base in Newfoundland. There were memories he would never share; horrors he would never live.
In sadness and in pride, the man stood straight and tall each and every Remembrance Day. He'd known the men who never returned. They'd been his playmates, classmates, friends. And he ensured that I honoured them, as well. Through him, I saw the soldiers not as faded images from a distant past but as flesh and blood.
I once knew a man. That man was my dad.
My dad wrote the story that follows and it was published in our community (Eriksdale, Manitoba) history book Memory Opens the Door (first printing 1970; second printing 1974)
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