In Oshawa and Bowmanville, the allotted space in the downtown core was crowded and full.
Secondly, the services excelled as models of sensitivity. In Bowmanville, for example, the familiar poem “In Flander’s Fields” was read, but so were two additional poems: “The Messenger”, which captured the feelings of the person mandated to bring the sad news of a soldier’s death to the family; and the heart wrenching poem “Home” by Warsan Shire, a Kenyan born Somali poet (http://seekershub.org/blog/2015/09/home-warsan-shire/ ).
At precisely 11 a.m., a yellow WWII bomber did a fly over and painted a circle of smoke over us, moving some of us to tears as we thought about squadrons of bombers setting out on their dangerous missions. When the sacrificial deaths of the 158 Canadian soldiers who died in Afghanistan were mentioned, including Clarington’s Darryl Caswell, 25, we were also reminded of the more than 70 soldiers who have committed suicide since returning home.
Thirdly, I was impressed by the Christian spirit of the ceremonies. In Bowmanville, the hymns were Christian, including “Abide With Me”, “O God Our Help In Ages Past” and “Onward Christian Soldiers”. The message was Christ-centred, focusing on the sacrificial love of Jesus who laid down His life for everyone. And the closing benediction was shamelessly Trinitarian, blessing people on their way with the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father and the power of the Holy Spirit. If anyone was offended by any of this, it was not apparent. I understand that the people in Oshawa had a similar experience.
Today, as we welcome Syl, a military Intelligence Officer during the Vietnam War, may our understanding of those who served and the trauma that they suffered make us care even more for those who served their countries as soldiers. Lest we forget!
- Pastor Peter