Saturday, November 12, 2011

Why I remember

Remembrance Day is a hard day for me.

My Grandpa was from Newfoundland, and was a rock - little could phase him, and he always looked for the best in people. He was in the Merchant Marines during WWII - he was on the great lakes, and while he had a few close calls, he had an easier experience then most. He spent the last half of the war doing construction in Canada for the Army - close to home and safe. The Legion was a huge part of his life - he was there with "the boys" every Thursday through Sunday inclusively. I remember him taking me to sell Poppy's, and how he'd always pin one on me, and tell me he was so thankful he could. He could never tell me why he was thankful. I remember him asking and him telling me he would tell me when I was older.

I don't know if he ever knew how well I understood what he could never put into words. My mom's side of the family was on the flip side of the same coin during WWII. I have relatives who were in Auschwitz Birkenau, Treblinka and Chelmno. Some survived, most didn't. Of my Bubbies 12 siblings, 3 lived, and of my Zaidy's family he and his brother survived.

I'm not going to get into the details, but my mom was born in a refugee camp in Germany in '46 - my grandparents were in a mix of internment camps and on the run in Siberia during the war. They escaped, but they knew their families didn't.  My Grandpa never needed to tell me why he was thankful, because I already knew. I remember being sat down as a child, and being shown the numbers tattooed on my great aunt's arm. My mom was horrified - she thought I'd have nightmares. I didn't have nightmares, but to this day it's something I have trouble with - I only dwell three days a year, and Remembrance Day is one of those days. 

I'll never forget any of my grandparents. Neither side of them knew the other well, but they taught me to remember, to hope, and to never give up.

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