Wednesday, November 11, 2009


His name was Charles Raymond Bradley and he was a Petty Officer with the Royal Canadian Air Force. He was my Grandmother's baby brother and the youngest in the family. I don't know exactly how old he was, because even though I had the presence of mind to pay some attention when my Grandmother spoke, I did NOT have the presence of mind to write these things down. He looks pretty young here.

He was a navigator on a bomber, and part of a fairly successful team – at least according to my only (possibly somewhat biased) source. My Grandmother told me frequently how after every successful mission, the crew each got an egg for breakfast. This was a big deal, as eggs were a rare commodity at the front. Reserved for the elite. Once you had twenty-five eggs, your tour was done. He had eaten twenty-one eggs.

When he was shot down over Germany, my Grandmother said that it ripped a hole in my Great-Grandmother's heart. She became embittered and angry at them for taking her baby. I wouldn't be so sure she even knew with whom she was angry.

I can't relate to the horrors of war. My heart lets me dabble at the edge of what it may be like to let your baby go off to an uncertain future, with odds further against them than you care to fathom. For obvious reasons, it doesn't let me more than dabble. More importantly, the only thing of which I am certain is that it would be nothing like one could ever imagine. Never mind the visit.

It's BECAUSE I can't relate that I am so grateful. I have not had to consider the possibility of such a hole ripped into me for the greater good.

I am so deeply indebted to the men and women who have served and continue to serve to protect my privileges as such a comparatively spoiled princess. Is there really any more that I can say than: Thank you?


Max and I went yesterday to the Remembrance Day ceremony at the kids' school. The Principal makes a very sincere effort to beat the kids over the head with this. I believe it's pretty much provincial curriculum to not let this solemn day pass by un-noted, but I get the impression our Principal would not have to be asked. I was slightly disappointed at the parent turnout to this (what I think is an) important occasion, but noted that it was not specifically sent out as an invitation. I was extremely impressed at the children who sat silent and mostly (amazingly) still for a very long time. There are glimmers of hope.

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  1. Great post.

    The closest relative I had to the war was my grandfather, who was never deployed overseas; he never viewed today as a day for him so much as for others.

  2. This was beautifully written.

    And that's all I have to say about that.

  3. We do have something in common. Heroes in the family.

  4. I love this post. My brother is a veteran (he served in Iraq twice) and every year on Veteran's Day I don't know how to say 'thank you' enough.
    I love your writing and just want to thank you for taking the time to visit my blog as well!