My son has been learning about Remembrance Day for the past week in school. I know this because he comes home and asks questions about his step-dad, who spent a dozen years in the US Army.
"It's a good thing he didn't die, right?"
"I'm glad he drove a tank because if you get out of a tank you die. So I'm glad he stayed in."
"He won't go back to a war, will he?"
As much as I want my son to know about his step-dad's Army career, as much as I want him to grow up and learn to be thankful... I'm not so sure just teaching kids that "people die in war" is the most important thing.
No, I think its important that we teach them WHY they died. The good, bad and ugly.
Ian Robinson with the Calgary Sun had a very moving tribute in the paper today:
Ahead was the slightly bent figure of a white-haired man in the blue blazer above gray flannels, Legion crest on one side, an array of service medals heavy on the other.
My daughter marched up to him. We adopted her from a Romanian orphanage when she was three.
Ethnically, she's a gypsy -- that's right, loud colours, long skirts, tambourines, fortune-telling, the works -- and we used to try to ensure she knew something of her culture until she sat us down and made us stop, explaining that she was a Canadian now.
But she remembered enough to stride confidently up to the veteran to ask, "Did you fight in the war?" He smiled and allowed as he had.
She stuck out her hand, looking solemn.
"Then I have to thank you," she said.
"I'm a gypsy.
"Do you know what Hitler and the Nazis planned for gypsies? He was going to kill all of us.
"The Jews call what happened to them during the war The Holocaust. Gypsies call it The Devouring, she told him.
"So if you hadn't stopped them, I wouldn't be here.
"Thank you beating them so I could be born and, you know, live and stuff."
Turns out we needn't have worried about Jillian being able to relate to acts of remembrance on Nov. 11.
We need to ensure that we Remember why they died and we need to teach our children.