I have recently been doing some research on my late father’s military experiences. He was a volunteer soldier in the Grenadier Guards in England from 1930 to 1933 and then again in World War 2. As I grew up he rarely talked about his war time experiences, so I have been busy trying to find out where he went and what he experienced. He served overseas in World War 2 in North Africa and then in Italy.
One experience he did share was the return as a victorious soldier to England. After being away for over 2 1/2 years and been wounded and returned to action in the Italian campaign, he returned to England by ship on 19 August 1945. No welcoming bands or cheering crowds, just a dockyard that was closed so no one could get off the ship! It was a Sunday.
Contrast that with an experience we had last Tuesday in the Dallas Airport. An aircraft arrived from the Middle East carrying returning American soldiers. Like most airports the arriving passengers are separated from the departing passengers in a elevated enclosed walkway. As the first soldier appeared everyone in the departure lounge stood and applauded. This was hundreds of people – Dallas is a big and busy airport. Many cheered loudly and several yelled out “Thank you.” This went on for at least 10 minutes! We joined in the applause. The atmosphere was so electric. The returning warriors were welcomed home!
I couldn’t help thinking of my father arriving unheralded, unwelcomed, and being left on a ship for an extra day! I hope we recognise and thank our Canadian service men and women who risk their lives to protect our freedoms.