Each of us has our own way to honour those who fall in battle no matter our system of beliefs or values. Each has a story they have lived through or heard that makes Remembrance Day one universally celebrated in Canada and beyond. This year Pique reached out to several residents to ask them to share what Remembrance Day means to them and why it is a day for all to commemorate. Here are their stories... Lest we forget.
My Old Man
By Brian Buchholz
My dad, Roy Buchholz, was a first-generation German-Canadian.
The middle of nine brothers and sisters, my dad's parents spoke more German than English on their rural Manitoba farm. Most of my aunts became nurses, while all the boys joined the military at the outbreak of war in 1939.
My aunts weighed their options between the backbreaking existence of their farmer / parents (my grandparents) and the worldly "profession" of nursing. The boys enjoyed no such options, no such exalted plans. The war started in September, by the end of the month they were all in uniform. Until the Nazi invasion of Poland, that career path had been nowhere in their plans.
My dad and his brother's story was repeated across Canada in those early days of the war by thousands of families. Even though the worst days of the Depression had past, underemployment and an uncertain future remained for many young Canadian men.
My dad had less than high school education. He had been a farmer and a carpenter, a first baseman and a forest ranger. He joined the army and trained as a Sapper with the 5th Regiment — 12th Company, Royal Canadians Engineers out of Winnipeg.
By early 1940 my old man was overseas. Until then, he'd never been out of Manitoba. Over the next four horrific years he served in many forward areas in France, Italy, Holland and North Africa — building bridges and blowing stuff up while somehow finding time to meet his future wife, my mom (a bomber manufacturing plant worker), in Trafalgar Square, London.
My dad's best army buddy, Don Brown, told me many stories about my dad's trouble with military authority. He was promoted and busted in rank more than once — one time delivering his best mate to an embarkation (after the required celebrations) and rolling a half-track into a ditch. I'm so proud! His medals and his army record speak for themselves to his bravery, ingenuity and leadership.
My uncle Carl joined the Air Force and was a gunner on B25 Lancasters. A Messerschmitt Night Fighter — a ME 109, shot him down over Germany. He told the story of how only he and two others, from a crew of nine, survived an attack that no one saw coming; bailing out of their flaming, stricken craft. On his own, with just a few words of German, he roamed the countryside for two days until arrested by a civilian policeman. He would spend two-and-a-half years in a German Stalag.