In the lead up to Remembrance Day (November 11), the Globe & Mail newspaper has been running a series of letters that were originally written during the Second World War. A Canadian soldier named David K. Hazzard originally wrote the letters to his wife, Audrey.
These letters are by turns sad, funny, revealing and, ultimately, very moving.
The first one begins: “I hope that you didn’t think I was being too casual in my goodbye to you at the station. It was extremely hard to say anything to you or particularly the youngsters, and I am glad they aren’t old enough to realize the uncertainty of this last goodbye… I love you with all my heart, and this love will not alter one bit no matter how long I am away.” (July 10, 1941)
Did you know that Canada, with only 1% of the world’s population, has provided 10% of the world’s peacekeeping forces? And that, in the past half-century, Canadian soldiers have been the busiest peacekeepers on Earth, serving in 45 missions from Vietnam to East Timor, from Sinai to Bosnia? Neither did I.
A while back, when I asked for ideas for future good deeds, one friend (thanks, Heather) suggested sending a letter to a Canadian peacekeeper stationed in Afghanistan.
I confess, this had never even occurred to me. My closest connection to anything remotely military was when I proudly served in the Girl Guides (Patrol leader, Bluebell troupe, thank you very much) from ages 10 to 12.
But when I started reading these Second World War letters, I got it. The loneliness, the boredom, the homesickness you can feel in every line.
So I sat down today and wrote a letter (actually posted one online at a site called “Write to the Troops”). I wrote to a man or woman I’ll probably never meet, and thanked them for risking their lives to keep the peace.
I told them how proud Canadians are for their efforts and that I’ll say a prayer for them and for peace because that’s what they’re all about. I wished them a speedy tour so they can get back to their families and loved ones in time for the holidays. For Peace on Earth.
I’ve put a link in my blogroll in case anyone else feels like dropping a line to Afghanistan — no postage required!