On Thursday November 11th, we once again commemorate those who gave all – for us – for our families and for our way of life. Remembrance Day is a solemn occasion in our house. My Father-in-law, Roy Barnes, was a WWII veteran who fought in Europe and then spent a number of years in a german POW camp in Poland after being captured in France.
He spent years of deprivation and near starvation, never giving up hope. He told me once that while he was there, through the beatings, the humiliation, the hunger – he knew that he was remembered. He knew that his family, his friends and his country remembered him, that they knew where he was and that they were praying for his safe return. When he was finally released after almost 6 years, he joined his old regiment in the liberation of Holland because Roy believed that the freedom that he himself had suffered for should never be denied to anyone.
Like most veterans of the world wars, Roy knew horror. He had seen it first hand. And for that he paid a price.He carried with him the memory of his friends who stood… and fell, thousands of kilometres away. As one of those that returned from the gates of hell, he was duty bound to ensure that the proper respect was given to those who did not.
Roy died in January, 2009 but every year, almost to the end, he stood at the Cenotaph in Revelstoke and reverently paid his respect to those who lay buried on foreign shores. I was honoured to stand by his side when he did. And as often as not, it was raining which always seemed somehow appropriate.
In honour of those who have fought and those who fight still, for this country – for its people – and for its beliefs … please wear your poppy. It is the badge that you can wear to not only recognize the service of so many but also to give silent testament to the fact that you do remember.
And Roy, as always, I want to thank you for your sacrifice, for your friendship and for your daughter. I also want to thank you and all veterans, for your courage and your sacrifice. You traded your freedom so that we could have ours. I will never forget that.
We will never forget that.