Remembrance Day is a worthy and growing recognition of heroes past and present. Its prominence in our collective mindset is reinforced by daily news coverage of the many conflicts that continue around the globe. There is even a call to make it a statutory holiday in Canada. Regardless of your politics, recognizing what people have done and continue to do in the name of freedom is as important as it ever was.
Irony (or marketing) has put the release of a major war-based video game titled “Call of Duty: Black Ops” just two days before the day we remember those who actually were called to duty, and went… Youth who picked up a weapon instead of a game controller… young men and women who travelled to the other side of the world instead of downloading the latest game maps… soldiers who flew over enemy territory and got shot down, for real. Heroes like my Great Uncle, David Mackey.
A tail gunner in a WWII Halifax bomber flying over Germany, David was shot down behind enemy lines and spent several harrowing days avoiding German patrols by hiding in ditches and fields. Eventually he surrendered and was a leader among his fellow POWs helping to maintain morale and distribute rations.
When pushed, David would recount his war experiences, with uncharacteristic emotion. In 2005 he joined fellow veterans who helped fund the restoration a vintage Halifax aircraft – like the one he was shot down in – recovered from the bottom of a Norwegian lake and now on display in Trenton Ontario.
When he passed away last year, we celebrated David’s life and his life story. One of the treasures on display at his funeral was the original German POW form, picture and all (shown here). It is a priceless memento preserved and made available for younger generations of our family to appreciate.
My great uncle’s story is only one among thousands – stories about heroism and sacrifice that continue to be written today. Stories worth remembering , and not just in November.
To every veteran of every war – thank you for your service.