Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Archie Simpson

Its Remembrance Day today. With my dad being military, and later my husband being military, Remembrance Day has always been understood as a day to remember those who serve our country. I grew up on military bases and lived in Military communities ...all my life. Remembrance Day is big on Military Bases. Today I did something completely different for Remembrance Day.
I joined my friend Linda and her daughter Morgan and we went to the Remembrance Day services at Acadia University. This is my first non-military Remembrance Day. First off, it was inside U-Hall. As I sat in the majestic hall, surrounded by memories
of music festivals, Sheri Lois and Bram, graduations.. I looked out the windows and saw the beautiful blue sky. I remember many many Remembrance Days that were cold & snowy or wet & windy. As a child, on crappy days, we watched Remembrance Days on TV... Here, on a beautiful sunny Remembrance Day, we sat inside. On stage was the Acadia U Symphonic Orchestra, warming up, playing conversational music. The Honour Choir practiced in the balcony.
At 10:45, the orchestra began to lament "Amazing Grace" and the procession of war veterans and Legion members moved to the front chairs. They were followed by Scouts, cubs and beavers and finally guest speakers and representatives from the university and government. The combination of "Amazing Grace" being played so beautifully and the slow march of the veterans, stirred up tears as I couldn't help but think of what this old men and women have been through in their lives. I remembered Terry's grandfather and what he told us about his time in Italy from 1940 to 1944. I remember the stories his grandmother told me about how he had changed so much when he came back. I was reminded that it is not only the men of war that suffered, but the families they left behind, and also came back to.
This ceremony was beautiful and the haunting performance of Flanders Fields by the Honour Choir was amazing. The Symphonic Band played Ave Verum Corpus and it sent shivers down my spine. But that was not what was so beautiful about this ceremony. The sense of community shone though the whole day. This was a celebration of the local heroes. The boys from Acadia U., the boys and girls from Horton, the boys from Pt Williams, the boys from White Rock And Gaspereau...
The master of Ceremonies and the Student body president read every name of every soldier that was from the community. The names were all local names, farming names and business names. Names we recognize in fellow teachers, neighbours and doctors in the community. The wreaths that were laid were there for families members, and laid by the families.
All the wreaths were carried by the local scouts, cubs, beavers and venturers, and then passed to the representative who actually laid the wreath on the stand. I was so proud to see the scouting community participating.
As I sat and listened to all the names, I thought about Terry's grandfathers. Both were in the 2nd world war, and both left their wives and children behind for over 4 years. 4 years... 4 years. Terry's dad was less than 6 months old when his father left, and
Terry's mom wasn't even born when Archie left. Both survived the war physically, but mentally, the war changed them dramatically. The families also paid a huge price as well... for our freedom.
I only really knew Terry's grandfather on his mom's side, and although he didn't talk about what happened during his time in Italy, there are many stories that were written by his comrades and published in local papers. Nanny kept a collection of newspaper articles, with news of local boys, and they gains and losses. She compiled all these clippings in a book and copied it for each of her grandchildren. When I got home today, I got that book out and read through some of the clippings. I understand now, a little better, the sense of pride and community that these local paper clippings represent.
As I sat listening to each of these names being read today, I thought of Archie. I imagined that at the Remembrance Day ceremonies in Lanark or Perth, Ontario, someone read the name
Archie Simpson. I hope they did. As each of these names were read today, I listened and silently thanked each one of these brave young men and women for what they gave, and gave up, for me and for our country those many years ago.
Thank you Papa Archie. Its not the first time I have said this to you, and it won't be my last.
Adele Simpson Archie Simpson
1915-2006 1915-1993


Colleen G said...

Interesting that you should ask if Archie Simpson's name was read out at a service today in Perth, well, I'll ask my dad for you. Like you, I hardly ever miss a moment of remembrance having grown up in a military family. My father, long retired, lives in Perth and is very active with the Legion and the local military museum. I am certain that not a single name would be left out. On Sunday, I attended an unfamiliar church in Kingston Ontario where my son was playing the Last Post for a service. I listened to the names and wondered about their families and whether any were still in the congregation or if they were elsewhere thinking of their loved ones. It's such a small thing to do to take the time to think of the sacrifices and the freedoms we enjoy because of them. Especially poignant to me now that my son has made the decision to make the military his career and service to his country.

Colleen G said...

Just checked with my dad and yes, Archie Simpson is on the honour roll but it's not read out each year as he came home from the front. Only those who died are read out. I have sent Dad a link to your blog so he can see the news clipping as he is very interested in sharing stories with the children who visit the museum to learn about the wars.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Donna - a lovely and moving blog. I explained to both my girls how their great-grandfathers were in Europe fighting for what we all have and enjoy today and how we all should be thankful. Kelly

ancient one said...

Great Post Donna... they usually read the names of the war dead at the ceremony at the park, but today we had the left overs from Ida and the blowing rain kept anyone from having ceremonies outside today...