Mr. Sinclair was the first male teacher I had in grade school.  He was tall, arrow straight, sharp and trim as a new razor blade.  His shoulders squared and his hair was a flattop buzz that hinted of military.  I don’t know what brought him to the teaching profession in charge of our grade 5 class, but he was good at it.  He taught.  We learned.  Discipline was generally not a problem.
Every class had its clown and we had a winner.  Wayne had been at the peak of his form during the Remembrance Day Assembly in the school auditorium that day.  Noises, wisecracks, shuffling chairs, he ran out his entire repertoire.  Back in class and seated at our desks, Wayne decided that an encore was in order.  Mister Sinclair thought otherwise.  This was 1958 and Korea was still fresh in the minds and hearts of a lot of folks.  I believe Mister Sinclair mentioned that he lost some friends during his own tour south of the Yalu River.  So when the antics resumed in class, Wayne was sent from the room.  Propelled is a more accurate description, by the scruff of his collar and seat of his pants, toes lightly dancing over the floor.  Now that left an impression on me.

Years later there were bleak November services of Remembrance at venerable Knox Presbyterian Church, standing by my father’s side.  The Toronto Scottish Regiment formed up and the pipes and drums marched them to Spadina Avenue and the church where past Colours were laid up.  This had been my father’s regiment and there was no doubting the solemnity of this occasion.  Taps, The Lament, Reveille, always the sound of the pipes sending them off or bringing them home.  He had lost friends too, friends for whom he had been responsible, his boys.  
A very wise and educated gentleman once commented that he could not bring himself to celebrate Remembrance Day the way we Canadians did.  I replied that we didn’t celebrate it, we commemorated it.  We remembered together so that we did not forget.  What they did and how they could bring themselves to do it are issues that we all need to explore.  There were inconceivable follies, unconscionable waste, brutality that beggars description.  There was courage and sacrifice and acts in which “greater love hath no man”.  How did they do it?  Why did they do it? What lead them to the point where they were willing to do it?  I still don’t understand.  Remembrance Day is about asking these questions again and again, looking for some kind of answer. I’m certain my father believed his greatest achievement was that I never had to ask those same questions of myself.

Lesson #30 – Remembrance

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