By Dave Carr
Well, it's Remembrance Day. It's a very big thing in our Canada -- not a day off, not a long weekend, but something more, something deep inside us that is really never very far from the surface. "Lest We Forget" is a mantra that abides deep within our Canadian psyche, as it should. It is not forced there; we are not slavish to it, conditioned to it, propagandized to it -- it lives comfortably, if sadly, inside us. We just. Don't. forget.. And that's just nice, and as it should be.
Remembrance Day is observed in some form in more than twenty nations around the world, only about half of them Commonwealth nations. Before I became a Canadian citizen, I was American and as such, I am a Vietnam Veteran. I was there in 1968. I was there for the Tet Offensive. Mostly I worked in an air conditioned office, but I also flew as a door gunner on helicopters; guarded our base perimeter and just now and then did the other more soldierly things that make good books and exciting movies. They were neither good nor exciting to me; they scared me! I am singularly proud of my service. The only reason I was not a lifer was that re-enlistment would have guaranteed a second visit to Vietnam, and a war that had become an absolute horror. When I can, I visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and the Vietnam War Memorial, that black wall, and I cry like a baby -- as I do now every year approaching 11 a.m. on this day. On the Wall, happily, to my knowledge, I do not personally know a single one of the more than fifty-eight thousand names etched there. And yet, somehow, I know them, or knew them all.