Every Remembrance Day I pull out this letter alongside the medal, and take a moment to pause and think about it. It’s from my Great Grandmother, one of the most important people in my entire life. The type of person who, in a literal sense, left a key above her door and told everyone she loved where it was in case they ever needed somewhere to go. I knew her as Grammer. Her house was a place where family and food were number one and love and respect were practiced. It was a place that shaped me as a person and after her passing has become a place I miss very much. It was also a place she knew wouldn’t exist without the current and past sacrifices of our service members.
She was a nurse near the end of WWII. Who, by her own recount in a letter to my brother “enlisted because I wanted to drive the trucks, but when the army looked back at my schooling thought I’d be better fit as a nurse. When I arrived on base there were 1900 men and only 400 girls”. Once the war ended she worked at a military hospital in Ontario.
I can’t even begin to imagine the suffering she would’ve have witnessed, and endured herself, at that time in our history. However I like to believe I know what her ultimate goal for her great grand children was. To make sure those sacrifices never went unappreciated or forgotten. And that our society learn from our own history.
Each year when one of her great grand children would turn 13 she would give them some sort of piece of history from the war, along with an incredible lesson. For my brother it was her diary from those times. For me it was this medal and letter. But for all of us the real gift, besides these physical memories, were the stories.
The stories weren’t gifts in the typical sense of the word. They were sometimes gruesome, eye opening and emotional. But the moral of the stories always stayed the same. That moral being never forget those who have given their lives for us and how lucky we are. The true gift in the stories was our freedom, and that freedom doesn’t come easy.
Although she was never around to see me share her message, she was around when I first got into radio. I remember her telling me to “keep the people smiling and dancing”. I will continue to do my best at that, and I will share her message with whoever will listen along the way. I refuse to forget the lives that were lost in order for me to even get the chance.
Please go take in a ceremony if you can today and say thank you. She would love that. And please buy a poppy. When you a buy a poppy the money doesn’t only go to support members who served during her time, many of which are unfortunately not with us anymore. It also goes a long way in providing support to those who continue to serve now and deserve our help during their either physical or mental recovery.
The PEAK will also have a moment of silence on the air at 11am and I’d love to use this comment section as a place for you to share your own stories and thankfulness. Tell me the story of the ‘Grammer’ in your life.
If you are a current or past service member reading this, thank you for your service. I am incredibly grateful for what you do.