Sunday, November 11, 2012

Lest We Forget

I have a lot of blogging to catch up on-- Portugal, books, hurricanes, nor'easters, Texas, and an epic head cold-- and I thought a wonderful way to start is by hopping on to Brenda Drake's Thanksgiving bloghop.

The bloghop turkey!!!

Since today is Veteran's day, of course my post will be about being thankful for our veterans. Not only for their service and their sacrifice, but for the continuous service many of them have provided to their communities long after their tour of duties. The US VFW and their ladies auxiliary hold a special place in my heart because, thanks to their Voice of Democracy speech program (I was the NJ state winner my senior year of high school), I went from a shy, awkward girl to a polished young woman. It would be so easy to just go home and forget about society, but they keep giving back. It's an incredible organization filled with incredible people continuing to do incredible things.

One of the prettiest (and somewhat saddest) memorials to service I've seen has to be the Memorial Chamber in the Parliament building in Ottawa, Canada. I was lucky enough to watch the page turning ceremony when I visited Ottawa in 2010.

Inside the Memorial Chamber

 From my travel blog entry (Feb, 2010):

And as I waited for the elevator up to the tower, I overhead one tour guide mention that her group was very lucky-- they were going to be able to observe the ceremony where the pages in the Remembrance books of the memorial chamber would be turned, a ceremony that very few visitors to the Parliament get to see (more on that later.) ...

This case holds more than one book, and the page turning was performed here by a family member of one of the honored soldiers
I did manage to get back to the entrance of the memorial chamber to catch a glimpse of the tail-end of the page turning. What this ceremony does (at 11am daily) is honor those Canadians who died in service to their country. There are five books in the chamber, each page filled with names. This daily page turning allows each name to be on display at least once a year. The chamber walls are inscribed with poetry, quotes, and psalms in English and in French ("In Flanders Fields" is one of those poems.)

It was a beautiful ceremony and, when we were allowed to wander around the chamber afterwards, I actually teared up a little bit on seeing the names in the books and John McCrae's words on the walls.

In Flander's Fields, on the wall of the Memorial Chamber. The book in the case is one of the books filled with names of those who died in service

"We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields."
-"In Flanders Fields" by John McCrae

I'm also thankful for the Peacekeepers, who continue to put their lives on the line for peace around the world. That's probably one of the hardest jobs of all.

The Peacekeeping Monument in Ottawa, Canada. This inscription reads "In the Service of Peace"
To our veterans (US and allies), thank you for serving and protecting.

That's what I'm thankful for today.


  1. That does sound like a very touching ceremony indeed. I do love medieval castles-wish there were some here in the US. I hope your cold goes away soon. Back to the blog hop trail...

    1. Thank you :) the ceremony was pretty amazing. Just as touching as watching the changing of the guard at our own tomb of the Unknown soldier. It's incredible how small things can be so powerful.

  2. I love that our country has a holiday just for gratitude. America has such a unique founding, and we all owe our gratitude to so many.

  3. Beautiful post. The pictures are lovely. In Flander's Field is so touching. Thanks for sharing! ;)

    1. Thank you, Brenda. I remember freezing in front of that part of the wall and letting those words hit me. They're so much more powerful set on stone rather than on paper.