In my early years I could not appreciate that I might be a product of the war.
I don’t mean this from a Baby Boomer perspective but from the degree to which my upbring was influenced by World War II.
My father did not serve in the war, rejected because of feet problems. I honestly believed he suffered for that rejection for much of his life, knowing that so many family and friends served, with many dying.
And that’s where I come so to speak.
My mother’s brother, my grandfather’s only son, was killed in Holland in the last weeks of the war. My mother and he were very close and it was clear that Louie Gallant was a quality individual.
I was born in 1944, my uncle died in 1945. I still have his letters today that enquire about me, wondering how I was doing, since I too almost died that year.
I became extremely close to my grandparents who doted on me. I lived in the country, they in the city, but my travels began when I was very young as trips back and forth from Angusville to Winnipeg became common and frequent.
Growing up my grandfather, who I adored, became my idol as he taught me through simple discussion about business, values, and community commitment.
My grandmother also raised me as the son she lost.
I never understood that until I was a teenager.
In my 20’s I had the opportunity to visit my Uncle’s grave in Holten. It was perhaps the most poignent moment in my life.
I don’t know if I could have ever lived up to what I believe my Uncle might have been. But from my grandparents, who never had the chance to see their son grow up to prove the point, I only received coninuing and uncompromising support.
Now that I am older I still want to go back to Holten one more time, and I believe I will.
But every Rememberance day I think of the lines of In Flanders Field that have particular meaning for me.
“To You from failing hands we throw the torch.
Be yours to hold it high.
If yee break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep
Though poppies blow in Flanders fields.
Please take a moment to reflect and you may be surprise how much your life has been influenced by a war you never had to fight.