My father had eight children, of which I am the youngest by seven years (I was not planned). He turned 55 the year I was born and I turned 27 the year he died all too suddenly. My father and I had a lot in common -- big noses, sturdy builds and a vexing emotional reserve. Many of my core values (atheism, philanthropy, curiosity, loyalty, hard work) were his core values. He was also a pacifist at heart, but he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force as a young man and he served in WWII as a navigator in the Ferry Command, shuttling aircraft back and forth across the Atlantic Ocean via the Azores Islands (which were notoriously hard to find with a bubble sextant and a slide rule).
My father never talked about the war, wasn't very involved in veterans groups, didn't have the special license plates. I'm sure that he was proud to have served, but I'm not sure that he was happy to have served. For me Remembrance Day is an opportunity to respect the men and women who fight our wars without respecting the act of war itself, and I think my father felt the same way. I wanted to express that respect by attending the ceremonies in Mission this morning with David, but even though we arrived early we couldn't get in the door. A good sign, I think.