Armistice Day. 1918. The end of World War I. In the US, where I am now, today is also Veteran’s Day. For remembering veterans of all wars, established by General-turned-President Dwight Eisenhower in 1954.
I see them together as a day to reflect, to lay down arguments about politics, religion, leadership in war etc, and turn our thoughts to the everyday people who put their lives on the line for their countries and the world. I believe these people deserve respect for their actions. My grandfathers were both veterans. My Grampa Maurice fought in the Battle of the Bulge in WWII and like so many veterans, he rarely spoke of the war. I remember once he told me of a Nazi plane he shot down, and my family has a giant lens from a pair of Nazi binoculars he brought home. A tangible connection to what he held inside.
Here are a few photos from encounters in Scotland that reminded me what this day is about.
Photo 1: One of the last surviving members of the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) saluting after laying a wreath during the Remembrance Day Service in Glasgow. In 2016 I was walking past Kelvingrove and this small group of gentlemen invited me to attend the service they were about to have at the memorial.
Photo 2: This amazing man is Tom Gilzean. He was a fixture on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh until he passed away last year at the age of 99. He spent much of his time on the Royal Mile raising money for charities. (It is estimated that Tom raised over £1 million for charity!) He proudly pointed to the green medal on his shoulder (he called it his green medal but it was on a red ribbon), and told me how he had earned it - France's Highest Honor, (Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur) for his actions contributing to the liberation of France in WWII. (He told me he went into houses and carried out bombs). Three months before I met him he broke his neck, back and shoulder in a fall, but he wouldn’t be kept down. He was so cheerful, which really resonated with me.
Photo 3: The Commando Memorial on the A82 north of Fort William, unveiled in 1952.
Photo 4: The “Every Man Remembered” statue, temporarily on display in Glasgow a few years ago.
I hope this post conveys the respect and gratitude I’m feeling. I have so much to learn about the World Wars, I so often study much earlier history but I need to change that, to ensure I am part of the conscious effort to never forget. Do you have any resources you recommend for books, documentaries etc?