Sunday, May 30, 2010

My Dad

Dad went to law school after he returned to Canada from WW1. He joined the army because he thought he was going on a combination cruise and boy scout outing...ah, the perspective of a 15 year old. Of course he lied about his age in order to enlist. His mother found out and contacted the army. As he was already overseas he was used "in the back" of things, taking care of ammunition and other supplies. Just after his 17th birthday, he was ready to be moved to the front. He saw combat for 1 day when he was wounded and simultaneously the war ended. Dad was sent to Aldershot England where he recovered from his wounds and finally made his way back home.

He never lost his love for all things military and belonged to the Canadian Legion for his whole life. After a decade practicing criminal law in a private practice, he rejoined the army during WW2, training troops in Fort William, Ontario and then sitting on the bench as a judge advocate for the rest of the war. His last position was as legal counsel for the Veterans Land Act and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Every Veteran's day we dressed up, put our red velvet poppies in our button holes and joined the parade to the Cenotaph where we placed a wreath.

The creator of the famous "poppy" poem was a Canadian medical officer, John McCrae. The practice of wearing poppies to honor the dead has now spread world-wide.

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie,

In Flanders Fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders Fields.

John McCrae, 1915.


  1. 15 years old! It's so hard to imagine, going off to war at that age. I can imagine his shock when he found out it wasn't boy scouts. It was wonderful that his mother was able to partially protect him. He sounds like a really interesting man.
    We learned that poem in school. About half of it is still in my brain.

  2. Anonymous12:36 PM

    Funny that you and I both posted poems on our blogs - yours so beautiful and mine so goofy.
    Your father was a handsome, interesting and accomplished man. It's a good thing that he was able to come home from war and go on to be a judge advocate.