Sitting in a Remembrance Day ceremony, my mind wanders away from Flanders Fields. I find myself thinking of the casualties of war that I have known, from my own time.
I remember blood soaking through a makeshift stretcher carried out of the Guatemalan jungle. The final breaths of a man trying to feed his family but caught on the wrong side of a political divide. I wonder what became of his family.
I remember the haunted eyes of a child soldier. Thirteen years old and already two years in the military with the blood of three on his hands. He hoped only for a return to the village from which he had been stolen. I wonder if he made it home, if his mind and soul survived.
I remember the palpable fear in a man picked out of a lineup. The way his knees buckled as the informant, burlap sack over his head, pointed him out. How much like gold in my hand my passport felt as they led him away. I wonder if it was torture or death that he feared.
I think of the innocent in Iraq and Afghanistan. Victims of superpowers vainly scrambling to assert their superiority. Victims of an over-consumptive society unable to see the impact of its own greed. I wonder how will they ever forgive us our trespasses?
I will forever be grateful for the sacrifices that have allowed my family the privilege to live in a country with the freedoms we enjoy. I would do nothing more than honour those that have fallen, but to use those memories to justify exploitation of the weak is the ultimate disrespect.