Veterans too often ignored

Why do I wear my Air Force blues to march and attend the service at the cenotaph on Nov. 11 each year? A good question.

To the Editor,

I spent a few hours in the mall at a kiosk hoping for a donation in exchange for a red poppy.

Most of the shoppers avoided eye contact and walked by, the few who donated were generous and the veterans are grateful and thank you.

I was wishing some of the many teenagers who passed me by would have spoken to me and I would have told them about the teenagers of my youth.

Why do I wear my Air Force blues to march and attend the service at the cenotaph on Nov. 11 each year? A good question.

The service is the same every year; the same hymns and words that have been sung and said for almost 100 years at endless war memorial services; to me they are meaningless and out of date. But I still go along with this ritual with emotions so deep they will always be a part of me.

I was 13 when Hitler started his march across Europe, with the invasion of Poland. I was still in school carrying a gas mask wherever I went; I hid in air raid shelters when the sirens sounded on the way home from school; I along with my family slept in bunks my father constructed under the stone cantilever stairs that we had in our home.

All the young men, teenagers on my street volunteered for the Royal Air Force and every one of them were killed in the Battle of Britain.

Conscription was in force for women over 18. If you volunteered at 17 you could choose which service you preferred. I chose the Royal Air Force.  I was immediately sent to Devon to be given a short surgical nursing course. When completed I was posted to a Royal Air Force hospital where I witnessed the true horror and consequences of war – young airmen who had survived the downed air craft only to be maimed for their entire lives, all suffering from amputations of one or more limbs.

Each year I stand and remember all of them by name, those who as teenagers, were robbed of a full life. And I include the millions who perished along with them.

Again this year, I will attend the cenotaph. My prayer will be for a peaceful world and an end to all wars. And as promised, I will remember them.

Eileen LittleNanaimo

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