Standing at West Vancouver's cenotaph today, with flights of aircraft passing in formation overhead, I remembered one veteran who stands in my memory for all of the veterans we've known. Alec McCauley had the iron handshake of a man who could land a Harvard aircraft frozen solid in the dead of winter at his WWII fighter training centre in Cold Lake Alberta. He told us this story, and more, years back as we shared a Thanksgiving dinner. He trained his fighter pilots to land frozen planes, he explained, so that they would be ready for anything and all of the boys could come home from the fight.
Not all of them in the end came home, and you could see the weight of this truth on him, passing across his face like the shadow of a cloud, as he told us about his time at war.
Alec helps us to take personally the gratitude that has to factor into Rememberance Day. This day is about the generations of men and women who were tested in the ordeals of a nation at war, a world at war and triumphed.
We are the proof of their victory.
We owe them a debt we cannot repay, except perhaps by paying it forward.
As they fought tyranny to affirm the goodness in all of us, to answer the barbarity of totalitarian government that would have made the brute violence of the state the measure of all things, it falls to us in our own ways to call our community to an ever deeper humanity. It falls to us to answer the ways loneliness, poverty, old age and the ordeals of life sap joy from life; our work -- and it is a happy, life affirming labour of love -- is to make sure everyone can claim his or her place at the heart of our community.
This Christmas in the Dundarave Festival of Lights, every step of a Morris dancer, every note attempted by a child in a first public concert, every chord of a Mariachi orchestra or lightning bolt struck from a fiddle, every tree shining against the darkness pays forward the debt of honour and gratitude we owe to the generations of men and women who fought and sacrificed for our freedom, for our ability to stand in peace and friendship at Dundarave Beach.
The Dundarave Festival Society
We are a circle of friends working in the Dundarave Festival of Lights Society to bring to life the promise of Christmas in our community, a season of life, passion and purpose that leaves no one in the cold. This is community-driven social change, in the true spirit of Christmas and the best spirit of our community.