Monday, 12 November 2012

An Extra Day of Remembrance

As Remembrance Day (Veteran's Day in the US) fell on a Sunday this year, today is statutory holiday: another day to remember those who laid their lives down for us in generations past as well as those who currently make the same sacrifice. Here's some family history.

My maternal great grandfather, born and raised in St. John's parish in Barbados, served in World War I with the British Army in Egypt; he was based in the ancient city of Alexandria surveying the area for military encampments. His son, my grandfather, was no doubt influenced by his father's volunteering for the military to volunteer himself during the Second World War, training in Canada before serving in England beginning in early 1944; bombing still happened over London and the English countryside.

Horror surrounded both of them, but at the same time their worlds, molded by spending their early lives in rural villages near sugar plantations, were expanded. My grandfather made the decision to move to Canada in 1946 and sent for my grandmother and four uncles. They settled in Huntingdon, Quebec, south of Montreal, before moving to Montreal itself. My mother was born in an old tenement apartment on Boulevard St. Laurent and Rue DeBullion in mid 1947, one of the first Canadian citizens (before 1947, Canadians were still considered British subjects). The following year, my grandfather, working as a redcap porter for the Canadian Pacific Railway, bought a veteran's bungalow in the Rosemont neighbourhood in Montrreal's east end.

Today, I contemplate both of my forbear's decisions, without which I may have had a very different life if a life at all.

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