WD Fyfe

A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society

November 11th, 2018


Next Sunday at 11 A.M., the Western World will collectively hold its breath for a silent moment in a frail attempt to remember a war that human memory has now forgotten.  It’s been 100 years since the guns went quiet at the end of The War to End all Wars, and there are no veterans left.  No one who heard the guns, smelled the blood, tasted the fear or touched the dying.  They are all gone, and it’s up to us and those who come after us to remember them.  Not for their deeds or their politics — but simply because they lived and endured in a time that we must never, ever, ever repeat.

So, once again, I have a very simple story.

One hot summer day when I was a young man, I paused in front of the World War I cenotaph in Hedley British Columbia.  It’s a single grey obelisk about two metres high.  I’d seen it many times before but never bothered to stop.  On that day in the glorious sunshine, its weathered grey was bright and warm and dry. There was no breeze in the drowsy afternoon, and no sound, just settling puffs of dust at my boot heels.  No one was there but me.  There were four or six or maybe even eight names etched at the base (Hedley wasn’t a very big town in 1918.)  I touched the stone where the names were cut and read them to myself.  These were men my age — sons and brothers.  They had looked at the same mountains I saw that day; saw the same creek wandering down to the Similkameen River.  They’d played games on that street, run and laughed and learned how to talk to girls.  They were in their time what I was in mine.

Every year on November 11th, Remembrance Day, we pause for a moment.  We touch the names cut into stone.  Every year, I remember that I’ve forgotten those names.

7 comments on “November 11th, 2018

  1. Claudette
    November 9, 2018

    You may have forgotten the names but you haven’t forgotten the feeling – that is what is important.

    • wdfyfe
      November 12, 2018

      No, I haven’t and I probably never will

  2. Joe
    November 10, 2018

    Moving tribute. Since Spain didn’t participate in WWI, they do not seem to have any remembrances planned. I have my alarm set, and will stop to think of those young men who were lost in the prime of their lives.

  3. CJ Hartwell
    November 10, 2018

    You have a way of taking my breath away, I felt like I was standing there with you.

    • wdfyfe
      November 12, 2018

      That’s what every writer wants and sometimes we succeed.

  4. Darling Doormat
    November 12, 2018

    Amazing how your thoughts are perfectly articulated into your writing. Greetz from Greece, WD.

    • wdfyfe
      November 12, 2018

      Thanks, I try and sometimes get it right.

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This entry was posted on November 9, 2018 by in History, Holidays and tagged , , .
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