I remember gluing poppies to a green piece of card paper one November night. I was just six-years-old–too young to know any grief or what really happened in war. But I do remember understanding that war was bad, that it had happened, and that I needed to be thankful for those who had fought it way before I was born. Without them, I knew I might not have such a good life. And so I finished gluing the poppies on the card for my grandma’s friend, Mr. E.
Thank you for fighting in the war. I remember how Mr. E smiled when he read those words. It was remembrance day and we’d gone to visit him. My sister and I sat on his knee and he showed us pictures and well-deserved medals and a map that showed Italy like a boot. Later we had ice cream and gummy worms. We remembered but couldn’t comprehend more than what he had told us and even that was foggy.
I remember the day that Mr. E died. I was seven, I think. Mom came up the stairs and told us at breakfast. I didn’t know him well but I had known him. He had fought the war for me. And I remember burying my little face on my bed and crying tears for the one who had fought so bravely so long ago. I remembered him and I just didn’t understand it.
Remembrance days came and went throughout the years but none were as wonderful as the ones at Mr. E’s house. We still went to the ceremony and all, but it wasn’t the same as talking to a real, live soldier. I learned more about war in school and thought of him when I did. We missed him and remembered some more though we still did not understand.
One year, I tried to write a story about a girl like me who had lived back then in World War 2. She was Jewish though and had to hide because of the Germans. I imagined that I was her and thought it very romantic. I was ten-years-old. I remembered though I was far from understanding it all.
Last year, I went to the ceremony with thoughts of my friend who was applying for the military. I imagined him in a uniform, going off to war. I gulped and fought back tears at the thought of remembering him. And then, I thought I understood.
Now I have all of these memories flashing through my mind on this remembrance day. I remember them all as if they happened just yesterday. But do I understand? No, I never really did. War and peace, sacrifice and death, love and life. One broken world. This grief has not been mine in full and never will be. I can remember but I don’t understand.
But because I can remember, on this day and others, I shall. I am thankful for veterans, for soldiers, sacrifice, and Jesus. Today, I remember and I am grateful that I can.