This is a picture of my Grandpa, Paul Hopaluk. He fought in Italy in WWII. And I think of him often, but even more so on November 11th. When we were little my parents would take us to Wainwright to honor the veterans on November 11th. Because of Camp Wainwright this town (where my grandparents lived & my dad grew up) has a beautiful ceremony to honor the vets. They marched down main street and placed poppy wreaths by the town clock. I remember looking for my grandpa in a sea of silver-haired military men. When I saw him I felt so lucky and so proud of him as he marched in unison. He seemed bigger and stronger than the Grandpa who sat in his recliner at home. It was usually cold out & I am sure I complained about that but my parents made sure we were well behaved and we paid our respects in a moment of silence. As a child, it seemed to be an eternity with my head lowered watching each cold breath leave my mouth. I looked forward to the end when we would head to Legion to play under the tables while our parents visited but I knew why we were there.
There were approximately 45,000 Canadian Soldiers killed in WWII and another 54,000 wounded (my Grandpa was one of them). A good number of these men are now gone. They were sons, brother, dads, grandpas and freedom fighters (imagine being able to add that to your curriculum vitae!). I only hope that as they leave this earth that there is a lasting impression of the sacrifices they made. I will be sure to teach Miles & Molly of them (as my parents did). I hope my friends will do the same.
Tonight before bed Miles & I made some cookies. As we made them I told him about my Grandpa & showed him his picture. I know he's too little to understand & remember but I want to get into the habit of telling him. I told him my favourite things about my Grandpa & that he must have loved him family very much to be willing to go away from them for a long time ("A long long time. Far far away." Said Miles.) I told him that because my Grandpa did that today we were able to go to school, go to the park & make cookies. It sounds like an even bigger accomplishment when you break it down for a three year-old. I told him that I loved my Grandpa like he loves his Papa ("So so much.") and that is why we have poppies on our jackets. So that when we see those poppies we think of our Papa's that we love. He liked that.