Saturday, November 17, 2012

Remember, it's poppies before sugar plums

Halloween morning had sprung with cloudy skys, jack-o-lanterns on every doorstep and a major corporation launching its Christmas campaign.
My kids had not even hit the streets to beg candy from strangers and these guys were already pushing Yule Tide sales on me.
Merry Halloween-mas everyone.
Don’t get me wrong, I am a big fan of Christmas. In fact, it is my favourite (and most wonderful) time of the year, but there is a very important day to recognize before the Yule Tide season can begin.
Today is one of the most revered days of the year, it is the day we honour and salute our soldiers past and present, without whom we would not enjoy the wonderful country Canada is.
A friend of mine posted on Facebook ‘Please don’t do any Christmas decorating until after Remembrance Day in honour of our veterans.’
Many people agreed, as do I.
Although I am not a veteran, I did spend two years in the militia being a weekend warrior.
We would gather several days each month and eight weeks each summer for training where would run around doing all sorts of army type things.
I quickly learned the hurry-up-and-wait exercise was the most common army exercise there was.
I had not been a Saturday Soldier for very long when I received my first lessons in the waiting game. We were on a training exercise, and more than two kilometres from the head quarters tent, when we were told if we were not at the pay officer’s desk in 10 minutes we would not get our money for that month.
Not much can get a group of young men run like that. One is money, the other is girls and the last is beer. (Put them all together and someone is going to break the miracle mile while wearing army boots and carrying a pack.)
Because we all wanted to get paid so we could buy beer for girls, we ran to the pay officer’s tent like we were on fire. I have never seen a group of guys move that fast in my life.
There were 30 of us sprinting as hard as we could and in record time we were lined up outside of the pay officer’s door – where we waited for the next 45 minutes.
This raised several questions, the most obvious of which was why did we have to run so hard our toes were numb only to stand in line for almost an hour. I could have ambled the distance in that amount of time. I could even have moseyed it and still arrived with time to spare.
Later that day we were heading out on another exercise and were told we needed to get a specific piece of equipment in the next 30 seconds or we would be in a world of hurt. So, with seargents screaming like they were re-enacting scenes from Platoon, we piled out of the back of the truck, ran to get the kit and piled back into the truck where we sat for more than an hour, all the while holding that vital piece of equipment.
The army was funny that way. Often, it was a good example of how not to do things, but it was also a good place to learn some important life lessons.
The reserves taught us how to take care of ourselves and to look out for each other.
I have a tremendous amount of respect for all our soldiers, past and present. A good friend of mine spent more than 20 years in the military and it is not an easy life.
He was away a lot, often in less-than-ideal conditions and the days were long and occasionally hazardous.
So let’s remember to hold off on Christmas promotions and decorations until at least Nov. 12.
Until then, the only thing anyone should be putting up is a poppy.


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