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My dad woke me up very early one morning and said, son I want you to come with me and help set up the Cenotaph for the parade. I was 8 years old when I first learned of the meaning of a Veteran and on that cold November morning I was mad at Dad for taking me away from my warm bed to help him set up the chairs and a sound system at something called a Cenotaph.

We went to the Legion Branch 217 in Mimico and picked up some flags and wreaths in his paint truck and then we went to Hogles Funeral Home to get some chairs. We drove to this little park that had a big cross that had a lot of names on it. Dad and some other men were busy setting up everything and I was helping them set up the chairs, but not understanding what all the fuss was about.

All of a sudden, I heard music and sirens coming around the corner with flags flying in the cool breeze and people marching behind a pipe band. They marched up to the Cenotaph and stayed still in a straight line, while the Padre said some nice things. I looked around at everyone and saw tears in their eyes and that is when I asked.

“Daddy why are they crying”.

Dad looked down at me with his eyes that where filled with tears and said to me because we will never forget the men that died for our freedom. I watched them finish the service and we got everything back in the truck and left with me still confused about this whole day.

I couldn’t forget that day and finally asked my Dad one day while we where out driving by the Cenotaph and he looked at me with a worried look, turned the car around and stopped by the Cenotaph. We got out and sat down on a bench beside the wreaths and he told me all about the wars and how many died to keep us free. Dad told me that he couldn’t be called a Veteran because they wouldn’t let him join the war because his body couldn’t do what was needed. Then Dad said as long as he lived, he was going to do as much as he could to tell everyone to never forget and he wanted me to understand the meaning of “Lest We Forget”

I joined the Legion and have been a member for over thirty years now and buried a lot of friends that I have known that will not be forgotten and I hope you all take the time to say “We Will Remember Them”

Freedom is earned and not given without pain and suffering and if we forget then it will all be for nothing. If War is hell then heaven is freedom so when you see a Veteran thank them because that is the least we could do and I am sure they would love to hear it.

I hope this little message gets through to you whoever you are in this great country that we all call home no matter what religion or colour. When you are at the service in you community this Tuesday take the time like my dad did and tell your little ones when they ask “Daddy Why Are They Crying”

Reproduced here with permission from my friend, Jim Spalding (the author)

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My Father, Russ Lloyd and the RCAF
My Grandfather, Alfred Mist and the
21st Battn.
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