The Bos Lady and I, like thousands of River City residents and hundreds of thousands of Canadians, attended a Remembrance Day ceremony. The ceremony in front of City Hall was simple…but soulfully moving in its simplicity.
On a still and crisp autumn day,
November 11/11, a day to remember,
A thousand people (perhaps two)
Gather on Churchill Square,
Standing around the cenotaph to honour “our glorious dead”.
The bagpiper plays that beautiful hymn
Of a loving father who abides always and ever
With those who are hurt or dying or dead.
Beautiful words sung and passed
From generation to generation; everlast:
Abide with me; fast falls the eventide
The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide;
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me.
And then a prayer is said and heard
With ear and heart,
A well-spoken word not only for those
That came not home
But too for those who came back not whole,
And for their loves and lovers, too:
“Be with those who are injured or broken” is heard in prayer
By our collective heart, which breaks at this.
When Amen is said we breathe once again
And clear our throats and blink away shiny eyes.
And now the bugler plays that lonesome sound:
The Last Post
The call to the fallen,
Those “dead in the gas and smoke and roar of guns,
Dead in a row with the other broken ones.” *
Then the Rouse and then the quiet,
Two minutes of silence,
Two minutes to remember
Lest we forget.
And the throng gathered today is silent,
Silent and still;
Respect seldom seen.
Now wreaths are lain
To remember, commemorate
And cherish those who gave all.
And while the wreaths are lain
The soldiers on their instruments
Play hymns beloved and treasured:
O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast
And our eternal home.
The wreaths are laid with reverence and care
By families and friends and dignitaries
In honour of sons and fathers and husbands.
Soldiers salute, stand at guard,
And then a wee girl in white lays a wreath for her daddy
And our hearts go out to the wee girl in white.
Our hearts go out to the wee girl
Now the wreath-filled processions cease
And soldiers begin their exit march.
And while they do to applause all around
The bagpiper plays those amazing sounds:
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
‘Tis grace that brought me safe thus far
and grace will lead me home.
Lest we forget. Amen.
(* from the poem The Last Post by Robert Graves)