101 years since the guns, great and small, fell silent. 101 years since the promise that war would never happen again. Like so many promises – a well-intended resolve but sadly never realized.
My father, Ralph Tremain (Welland) Stoner, who grew up in St. Catharines, Ontario, proudly served with the Canadian forces. Initially stationed in England (where he met my mother) he then saw action in Sicily, Italy, and Holland.
A Certificate of Honour he received at war’s end soberly proclaims the presentation of the certificate
“by the Citizens of the City of St. Catharines in grateful recognition of his patriotic service and sacrifice, and in tribute to those sterling qualities which prompted him to accept the hazards of war to preserve the liberty and freedom of mankind from the forces of tyranny and aggression which threatened the world”
Time may have faded the inscription, but its impact is no less
A lifetime away for me, even though I was born a decade after the war ended, but with each passing year the observance of November 11 grows more poignant. The emotion is mixed with an incalculable amount of gratitude that I have never experienced the horrors of war in my own lifetime. Other than reading and trying to grasp what so many parts of the world continue to endure.
My own children, likewise, have grown up free of war’s terrible price, and daily I pray my grandchildren would never have to experience it either. But in recent years with so many instances of the darker parts of history being removed, along with statues and memorials, I fear history will repeat because the lessons will be lost.
My parents would grieve and wonder if what they sacrificed was worth it. I still say yes, and am gratified that my grown children respect and honour this day as well.
I wear my poppy with pride and humble gratitude and earnestly wish my father were still alive so I could say “Thank You” to him in person. I confess that while he was alive the significance of November 11 was not forefront in my thinking. The passing of time seems to have fixed that.
It may be cliché, but if you value the freedoms you enjoy today, please be thankful to those who served in the past, those who serve today, and those who have yet to answer the call. This catch phrase always comes to mind. “If you don’t want to stand behind our troops, feel free to stand in front of them”
If November 11 is special to you, I'd love to hear your story, or your family's.
So thank you Dad - this post is in honour of you, and your brothers and fellow comrades, and may you know that your sacrifice of precious time and mental well-being are appreciated by your daughters and grandchildren. Until we meet again.
Love you always