Lest We Forget
As far back as my memory serves me, which seems to be getting less as I grow older, I can remember pausing on November 11th to honor those who fought for our country. Whether I was in high school in Saskatchewan, University in Ottawa, or standing in line at the grocery store, the people around me would join in for those brief two minutes of silence at 11 a.m. During those seconds I would think about the families that have lost their loved ones or have loved ones fighting for our country today. Occasionally, I would end up contemplating how much the world has changed since 1919 and where our country would be today had those people who fought, decided not to?
There are so many people who have very dear memories and stories of those who fought and served our country in the past and present. I had never been close enough to anyone who would share these until later in my life when I met, and became close with a hero who experienced and survived one of these wars. His name was Sir David Daniel Ruddy, and it would take more than a page to list all the accolades bestowed upon him. It is he who I pause to think about every Remembrance Day now, as he sadly passed away in 2011 at the age of 87. He will be remembered by so many whose lives he touched with his heroics, bravery, and accomplishments.
For those who know someone who witnessed the horrors of either great war, know that their experiences are not often discussed or talked about in too much detail. And for those of us who’ve never experienced such a catastrophe, can’t help but express curiosity and question those that have. Personally, I don’t think it disrespectful to ask questions, but we must also respect his or her decision to not answer them. This was the case with Mr. Ruddy who didn’t often talk about the events of the war with me. I would however, get detailed stories from his closest confident who is very much like a father to me, and whose life was forever altered with the passing of Mr.Ruddy.
It was these stories that my tremendous respect for Mr.Ruddy grew further, and who I wish was here today so that I could tell him so. He was the kindest man you’d ever meet, whose humility and humbleness I can only try to emulate in hopes of honoring such a great individual. He was so humble that his only request when he passed was to have the same flat marker resembling those of the thousands that served and died for our country. I will remember him always and the events that shaped his life. He accomplished so much with his time here and I was extremely fortunate to have shared some of it with him. His positive attitude and extreme optimism in the face of any obstacle is something I try to model. It is a wonder how I can even come up with an excuse or justify using one after knowing someone like Mr.Ruddy. One of his most captivating qualities was his ability to fight through so many challenges and near death experiences. He would rarely ever, if at all, fuss or become discouraged at the most trying circumstances. He was, and forever will be an inspiration to me.
This year on November 11th I will once again pause and reflect on those who served our country. However, I want to focus on how knowing this man has changed me. I will remember the time spent with him while he was here. I will remember the simple things we did together, like enjoying a bottle of champagne and strawberries on his balcony while watching the international fireworks over Montreal. Or walking the many trails of Victoria in September picking blackberries to enjoy for breakfast or that evenings dessert. I will never forget the sacrifice he and so many others made for our country, but this year I want to remember how much he gave back to this country after returning from such a horrific war. I will reflect upon all the people whose lives were changed because of their experiences with him, and I will say a little prayer that they all try to give something back to our beautiful country as a tribute to him.
If you would like to read the obituary of Sir David Daniel Ruddy, please click here. If you would like to attend a Remembrance Day ceremony in Spruce Grove this year, and honor those who have defended, and continue to defend our country, you can do so at the TransAlta Tri Leisure Centre. The Royal Canadian Legion Branch 281, with the Town of Spruce Grove organizes and hosts a very nice service. Doors open at 9:30 a.m. for this event and parking is somewhat limited.