Saturday, November 11, 2006
On this day last year, I was in Lumsden, Saskatchewan. This is a photo I took outside the arena where the service was held.
A few days ago, I was at the local mall. I was watching a man standing in front of the Remembrance Day display of soldier’s gear. He seemed to be staring at a brown leather jacket. Next to it hung a leather flying helmet with goggles. The jacket, with its sheepskin lining, looked softened up by wear. I approached the man and asked him whether he’d ever had one like it. Yes, he said, I was a pilot.
Oh, I said to him, so was my dad.
Going on quietly, he added, But I was on the other side.
What does ‘side’ come down to after all these years? What does ‘side’ ever really mean? Isn’t war mostly some generals sitting in offices that are far away from danger, while they play with young men’s lives as if they were gambling chips?
We talked a little longer – Afghanistan, Iraq. Wondered whether anyone really knows what’s going on there.
And when we shook hands to go our separate ways, the man and I both said to each other, Have a nice day. And for once, the words sounded so true.