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Unique Perspectives on Remembrance Day 2012

November 11, 2012

The Cenotaph in London, Ontario

“Remember those who fought & died & honour those who fight on, to defend our way of life, our right to choose & freedom to be who we are.” – me, 2012.

The night  before Remembrance Day, a group of my friends and I gathered to hang out, share some drinks, stories, James Bond movies and tasty treats. Toward the end of the evening, we were speaking about Remembrance Day and history and how it affected our families. One of us mentioned that we were a unique group that, had WWII not ended the way it had, would likely not be in a room together. Or if we had been, we risked death or imprisonment.

We came from a wide variety of backgrounds such as Chinese, Japanese, Ukrainian/Polish, German, and British. My friend’s grandfather was arrested as a teenager and forced to work for the Germans, only being freed by the Italians (whilst in Poland). My own family (of Japanese descent) were removed from their homes and placed in internment camps by Canada. My fiancée was born in England and her mother remembers the air raids.

Married and engaged couples would not have been permitted to marry, let alone receive the blessings of their families to do so, due to their racial backgrounds. Even further back – the chances that my Chinese friends would even speak to me, let alone be my friends would be impossible. Even today, there are those who still have difficulties disassociating the sins of the previous generations with those born far later.

That we can and do have friendships and deeper relationships with people from across the world shows the importance of what our veterans fought for in the past and continue to fight for in the present day. The freedom to make our own choices regarding whom we associate with and how we associate with them personally rather than from a global or political viewpoint. When you are able to meet and relate on a personal level, it is amazing how similar people are around the world.

The primary needs and wants are strikingly similar – family, friends, food and a roof over our heads. The phrase “Be open-minded, but not so open-minded that your brains fall out,” was mentioned over the weekend. Don’t expect people to be exactly the way you are, think the way you do, or behave the way you do. Be open to differences but be mindful that you don’t have to accept everything. This is the freedom that we have been given.

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