This is Ernest Pelletier, my grandfather.  He has been gone from the earth since my first year of highschool (16 years now).  Most memories of him are still so fresh.  I can still feel, smell and hear him.  My sister and I were his baby girls in a sea of male grand children.  We were truly the apples of his eyes.  He was a quiet man and for that it made him so strong.  He kept busy and relaxed well at the end of the day.  

Getting comfy in the worn couch in the livingroom, he would turn on the television ( you know the kind, the ones that were built into a unit where you could put photos of your grandchildren and fake flowers on).  Undoubtedly he would put on the history channel or something of that nature.  He watched.  He never talked.  The remnants of the war were few.  My mom once told me that he couldn't stop crying after he returned.  That he had an insatiable appetite for bananas and apples, after having been denied their sweetness while serving.  His tats were visible but they were part of my grandfather so I really didn't pay much attention to their details.  His legs trembled while he slept at the cottage, possibly some form of post traumatic stress.  

He was my everything.  It was pretty hard for him not to be.  As I matured, I wanted to know more about him from his perspective.  I had never asked him about his war experience but I knew I owed it to him to ask.  So I snuggled next to him while he watched one of his shows and just asked.  I can't remember exactly what he said but I remember him looking at me, with proud eyes and chatting.  It was our only deep talk, the most he had ever spoke to me one on one.  He passed unexpectedly months later.

My hero had fallen but he forever remains in my thoughts each day.  I had a photograph of him tattooed on my left arm so that I could always carry him with me and so he could walk me down the aisle when I married.  He did.

So today, this day of remembrance,I pay tribute to those men and women who served for my freedom.  I am eternally grateful.  I will never forget, I will honour and will teach my children about your courage.  But I also plan to teach my children about peace.  That is, some might say, utopian.  I am no stranger to people imparting their beliefs onto me with regards to teaching my children about the real world.  I choose to honour veterans with the hope for world peace and love.  For this I personally choose to not wear a red or even a white poppy.  I choose to not wear a symbol of blood shed and the most known symbol of remembrance of fallen heroes, not because I am I unpatriotic and disrespectful.  I truly believe that we should honour these brave people.  These people fought for my right to choose and speak and each Remembrance Day, past and present, I do remember but I still wear a bare lapel.  I stare at the seas of red that mask monuments.  I take a deep breath, moments of silence, and cry.  The poppy is a profound symbol that has personal significance for each.  I feel that significance needs to be respected as well for they fought for our personal expression.  Veterans fought for our freedom of expression and it is dishonourable to judge or be intolerant others for exercising our right.  Lest we forget.  

I speak only of this intolerance because of the recent tirade by a Canadian "celebrity" pertaining to the white poppy movement and how moronic those supporters are.  A group mentality erupted and thousands of comments began to stream.  His followers were quick to jump on the wagon.  There were many comments about disrespect but many touching on immigrants ruining our traditions and in particular that these "morons" keep their mouths shut and disappear.  The very emergence of this hate rhetoric and the thrust behind is quite saddening.  I am quite positive that our fallen heroes would be disgusted to know that those promoting peace and the very rights they fought for were being verbally obliterated.  Seems quite unpatriotic, disrespectful and oxymoronic to lead such a "war" of perspectives when these soldiers fought for peace.

Please take only from this post that which is positive.  I am one woman in a
world of millions who dreams for peace.   I never forget and I honour all who have served and will.  I choose to look toward harmony rather than war of perspective.  I choose to teach my children tolerance through love and respect.  These are simple practices for that which I believe were tremendous sacrifices: life.  Let us live together.


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