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Nov6ThuAs Remembrance Day approaches, let's honour the sacrifices made on our behalf. November 6, 2014 by Marg Reinkober
It was 1956 and my older brother invited me to play “war” with him. We entertained ourselves all afternoon, flying planes, setting up miniature forts and moving little plastic men with helmets and guns. As we got older, my brother researched wars throughout history. He taught me that although war is not a happy time, it is sometimes necessary. He later joined the military for a time as a young adult.
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I was 7 years old then and didn't have a clue about war. But there was a photo on my parents' wall showing my father in his Canadian Air Force uniform. As we got older, he told us about the bloodshed he had seen as an airplane mechanic during the Second World War—wounded soldiers and civilian casualties—and recalled the anguish of his family and friends who watched their loved ones go off to war, some never to return. They also endured the terror of air-raid sirens. My dad was able to visit his family back in Millom, England, during a leave; it was the last time he saw his mother.
My dad never forgot the war. He had a tender heart and was very affected by the suffering he saw; it made him sensitive to the pain of others. He had tears in his eyes when he talked about his buddies who never made it back. He wept when he remembered one friend in particular who shared the gospel with him. Although he didn't respond to the gospel at that time, a few years later he became a believer and a pastor.
While stationed in Calgary, he met and married the love of his life and over the course of many years they had eight children.
When I married and had a daughter, we were blessed to attend Remembrance Day services with my dad. We were all teary-eyed as we thought about the many men and women who gave up their lives to give us the freedoms we have today. I will always be grateful to them.
When my daughter got married and had two boys, I took them to the same services along with my dad. In later years, when he couldn't make it, we would visit him and my little grandsons were taught to thank their great-grandpa for his part in keeping our country free. Although they didn't understand the sacrifices made on their behalf then, these visits made a lasting impression on them and they still express their appreciation.
At 23, my oldest grandson, Jeremy, has a strong physical resemblance to my dad at the same age—the age he was in the photo wearing his uniform; the photo I now have on my wall. My youngest grandson, Chris, who is 20, has inherited some of my dad's musical abilities. He is working on a CD and is planning to include the lyrics of one of the songs my dad wrote, set to new music, in his honour. I am proud of my grandsons who both have the same gentleness and compassion that my father did.
Some people remember Dad for his sermons, some for his writing skills, and some for his musical gifts. His family remembers him most of all as a man who loved and prayed for every one of his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren every day.
As we observe escalating violence in many parts of the world today, we may be faced with some of the same challenges and sacrifices as were our parents and grandparents; I sincerely pray we won't. May God give us the same courage to stand up for what is right and keep the freedoms that were won in the past.
Marg Reinkober was the church secretary at The Salvation Army in Nanaimo, B.C., for 31 years. She attends Nanaimo Community Church with her husband, and together they volunteer in the corps and lead nursing home visits.