NINA FAYE MOREY
LOVE HEARING FROM YOU Send your stories, letters, photos, poems, recipes and crafts to FarmLife, 1666 Dublin Ave., Winnipeg, Manitoba R3H 0H1. Phone 1-800-665-0502 or e-mail [email protected]Please remember we can no longer return photos or material. — Sue Sandra Beswetherick of Seeley’s Bay, Ontario shares her thoughts of November 11:
My husband Bill is passionate about Canadian military history. I didn’t realize this until the first year of our posting to Canadian Forces Base Lahr in Germany, two years after we’d married. “We’re spending our two weeks leave here,” he said, handing me a stack of Michelin maps, appointing me the navigator. “All the blue dots,” he said, “or as many as we can.” The dots marked the monuments, cemeteries and battlefields of the First World War.
We arrived late evening at Ypres, Belgium. Bill was anxious we be in time for the 8 p. m. ceremony at the Menin Gate Memorial. The names of 54,895 Commonwealth soldiers who perished and had no known grave were incised in the stone. “Are you sure there’ll be a ceremony?” I asked. “There’re only two of us.”
“It’s taken place every night since November 11, 1929,” he said. “Only World War II interrupted it.”
As the time drew near, a small car roared out of the dark and stopped outside the gate. Two men wearing firemen’s helmets, boots and pants got out and the smell of smoke rose from them. They snatched two bugles from the back seat of the car and raced for the gate. Once in position they snapped to attention, brought bugles to lips and played “Last Post.” When they’d finished playing, the volunteer firemen stood for a moment in silence, then dashed back to their car. The car roared back into the night, back to the fire these men had obviously been fighting.
The Menin Gate Memorial ceremony has become more elaborate since then. Up to six members of the volunteer fire brigade, in dress uniform, now play “Last Post” on silver bugles. But it is my first experience, the ceremony’s significance that brought those firemen from a fire, which remains in my memory.
Once Bill retired we settled in Ontario, and every November 11 we attend the Remembrance Day services. Over the years I’ve learned that for Bill, as for the Ypres volunteer firemen, “We will remember them” is not a pledge to be taken lightly.