It's in their faces. The pain, the loss, the burden of remembering through all the years. "At the going down of the sun and in the morning. We will remember them." I need to see it in their faces. It's the only way I can remember too.
I've participated in many Remembrance Day services over the years. There is all the protocol--the right way to carry the guidon, the right way to stand at attention, the right music, the right words. But without actually remembering it is just one more service, the formalities doing the work for us. We go through the motions and then we go home.
Some years, on Remembrance Day, I have watched a war movie, "Saving Private Ryan" or the entire "Band of Brothers" series. I know, they're American movies about American soldiers. But they pack a punch, and that's what I want. I want to feel something. And for that I don't need them to be "our" soldiers.
Now I watch on TV the Remembrance Day service from Ottawa, with the troops and the politicians gathering at the National War Memorial. I watch for the faces as the camera pans the rows of veterans. They remember what I can't. So I watch for the strain of their holding back, the reddening of their eyes, the release of a single tear. It is their grief that will release my own. I grieve for them.
But we're losing them. Every year there are fewer faces. And what will we do when they're all gone? How will we grieve then? How will we remember? Because it's in their faces.