Kevin Ranville

ON REMEMBRANCE DAY

How do you say thank you to the men and women who risked their lives, and lost their lives to secure our freedom, our way of life, our peace and prosperity? How do you say thank you to the men and women who went through the most terrible experiences of their lives, surrounded by death and carnage, losing friends and loved ones, seeing things that would change their lives forever? How do you say thank you to those who went through all this with the belief that their one life, whether lost or saved, could make a difference, had to make a difference, for our sake, the generation they had not even met yet? How do you say thank you to the men and women who had faith in us before we were even born, faith that we would become people worth fighting for, and worth dying for?

How do you say thank you? You honour their sacrifice with your own life. You go to war against your faults and failures. You conquer all the things inside you that make this world a worse place to live in; worse for your family, friends, neighbours, co-workers. You fight to make the small space in the world that you touch a better place. You win the battle for your own soul. You be good and do good; you live selflessly, remembering the example that the veterans, both living and dead, laid down for us. You live life so well that those who remember the horrors of war look on you with satisfaction and pride and are comforted, never feeling for a moment that you weren’t worth the price they paid.

Sincerely, with love and respect,
Kevin Ranville

Author’s Note: Presented to The Royal Canadian Legion, West Kildonan Branch #30 on Remembrance Day – November 11, 2000

There is quite a story to go with this one. This started out as a little note I was going to give to my grandparents on Remembrance Day (November 11, Veteran’s Day in the US). When I gave it to my grandparents at the Remembrance Day service at their Legion they showed it around to people and the veterans and many other people were deeply touched by my writing. A whole chunk of the congregation of the church I attend came out to the Remembrance Day service and our minister was so impressed by the poem that he asked if he could use it as part of his Remembrance Day sermon the next day. I was very honoured.

Later, the president of the Legion asked my grandparents if they could have a copy of it to display in the Legion Hall. We had it enlarged and framed and I presented it to them at their general meeting. So there it is. A copy of this prose is hanging there for all the visitors to see. My grandparents are also submitting a copy of this poem to “Legion Magazine” which is published nation wide. If they decide to publish it my writing will have touched thousands of hearts.

The lesson I’ve learned through all of this is that it’s not enough just to feel good about someone in your life, thinking warm thoughts about them. We need to express our feelings to one another and tell people how we feel. Taking for granted that someone knows how you feel is a costly mistake. You lose out on a lot. Giving this little poem to my grandparents made so many people happy. Some of the comments I received from people who heard or read this poem I will remember for the rest of my life.

“This poem is what the Legion is all about,” the president of the Legion commented.

“You sure hit home with that poem,” another veteran said.

“If there were more people like you in this world the future would be in good hands,” another elderly gentleman told me.

Wow! I didn’t know what to say. I was just glad that my writing had touched a few people’s hearts.

By far the greatest reward however, is that my grandparents feel toward me that sense of satisfaction and pride I wrote about. I am deeply grateful for their hearts as they served in the World War II, and I will always try to live my life in a way that honours their sacrifice.