Shortly after beginning to write this, Anne and I left our home to make the one-hour drive to Montreal, so we would be standing at the Cenotaph at the Jewish Cemetery before 11:00 O’clock, where my Dad and Mom are buried.
My Mom and Dad were born in Montreal from immigrant parents; both of whom served in Canada’s military during World War Two. Mom, served as a Sergeant in Montreal during the War, while my Dad served with Distinction overseas.
Unlike today’s population, my parents and people like them NEVER asked for anything from Canada, but gave plenty. In their case, they gave 5 years of their lives from 1940 to 1945.
And in the case of my Dad . . . he gave it all. He was in the invasion of Sicily, the Battle of Monte Casino, and the battles that raged across the Netherlands from Appeldoorn to The Hague.
My dad was wounded and decorated several times. And in addition to Italy, he served in England during the Blitz, and fought through France, Belgium and Germany.
But, when I asked him: “What did you do in the War Dad?” His response was always simple.
“I did what I had to do. I did what others did.”
It was his Comrades-In-Arms who told me of his incredible courage and sacrifices. It was his Company Commander who some 50 years after the War told me just how much my Dad meant to his fellow soldiers on the battlefield.
But, what helped tell the complete story of what my Dad did was the Letter from Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, who wrote to my dad along with her presentation to him of the Bronze Lion, who expressed her personal wishes of gratitude for all that he had done for her beleaguered country.
My Dad NEVER saw himself as a HERO . . . BUT HE WAS; just as are every man and woman who has ever volunteered to wear the uniform of their country, determined to fight for FREEDOM – For us and for others.
Anne and I were at the Cenotaph at the Cemetery standing with a few others a few minutes before Eleven O’clock, where we listened to “KADDISH”, the Jewish Prayer For The Dead over Anne’s I-Phone, sung by the legendary Ofra Haza.
As the prayer ended, one of the other people standing with us played “THE LAST POST” on his I-Phone. We stood together, strangers all, who together wept for those brave men and women, regardless of their religion and culture, who fought, bled, and died to keep us FREE.
Afterwards, Anne and I walked to my Parents’ gravesite, where I affixed the POPPY I was wearing, on the Flag that I had placed in the ground on Fathers’ Day in recognition to my Dad’s incredible sacrifice, as I have done every year since he died seventeen years ago.
If those of the GREATEST GENERATION could see how we’ve dishonored their sacrifice, I think they would weep for us, as we weep for them.
WE MUST NEVER FORGET.
Best Regards . . . Howard Galganov