I sat beside a veteran travelling alone on the bus to the Remembrance Day ceremony downtown this morning. He seemed very old; in fact he was well over ninety, he told me in an Indian accent. Tiny and brown-skinned, he wore a Sikh turban and beard net. There were four or five medals hanging on the left side of his navy blue uniform. I noticed that his shoes were very well polished.
I wanted to take and post a photo of this amazing character, but I worried that it might be disrespectful. I wasn't even sure from our discussion in which conflict he had served. It sounded to me like he had been with a Sikh unit during Partition, but I suppose if he was far enough into his nineties it could well have been WWII. He said there were lots of deaths where he served and he came to the Remembrance ceremonies whenever he could.
After getting off the bus at Metcalfe Street I lost sight of him for a bit in the crowd heading toward the War Memorial. I lost sight because I was worriedly checking for him BEHIND me when he was actually well AHEAD, and when I saw him next he was executing a flawless slow-motion sprint across Elgin to beat the traffic light.
Today, November 11, I'd like to say thank you to my remarkable bus buddy, thank you to all our veterans and thank you to all our serving members. Huddled at the Memorial in a cold wind watching our Prime Minister and his wife, the Vice-Regal couple and this year's Silver Cross mother lay their wreaths in front of a beautifully diverse assembly of faces and uniforms, I was reminded yet again of how blessed we Canadians are. Thank you, Lord, for the incomparable gift of peace.