While technically it was Remembrance Day yesterday, I will post this today without reservation as I remember every day the man who was the veteran of my family. I woke up yesterday to the sound of bag pipes as I live close to our local Canadian Legion (an organization that supports veterans) and could hear their ceremonies from my home. It immediately made me think of a grandfather, my "Poppie", a man I love deeply and miss every day. He was a proud Scott that once told me that "if you don't get goose bumps from the sound of bag pipes, you aren't Scottish!" The last time I heard a piper play was at his funeral. The sound of them yesterday morning sent the goosebumps up my arms and brought the tears to my eyes in a flash. But I couldn't help but smile and remember those words. I am a Scott after all!
My grandfather served in WWII as a airplane mechanic in the Royal Canadian Air Force. We have pictures of his time during the services, of the great planes that he worked on and the time he spent overseas. One of my favorites was a picture of him, standing tall and handsome in a pair of overalls in front of a downed bomber in a snowy field. We liked to tease that it was "the plane Poppie fixed". It was said in jest of course, he could fix just about anything, though it might be held together with some blasting wire and a few blobs of sauter. A great man for sautering, my Pop's was!
I also loved an old black and white snapshot that my Poppie took while kneeling on the shoulders of his friend and looking out over a crowd in a square in England. A sea of people stood, shoulder to shoulder, gathered to listen to Churchill speak in person and address the end of the war. Poppie said that, though there were literally thousands of people, you could hear a pin drop.
Poppy was also a story teller, and a great one at that. He told me that all the mechanics were required to go up for a test flight after doing any major work on a plane and that you were paid an extra nickle (or something of the sort) for every time you went up. The Force claimed it was so that the mechanics could listen to the engine in flight but in truth it was that they felt the mechanics were better inclined to do a good job if their own life, not just that of the airmen, were being wagered on it! Well, regardless of the confidence (or pride) my grandfather took in his work, he absolutely hated to fly so he enlisted the help of his good friend, Pete, that loved to go up. The agreement was that Poppy would give Pete the extra nickle if he would go in his place. For a Scotsman known for thrift, this was as great of a testament to his dread of flying as any! But Poppie never begrudged handing over that nickle and Pete, fortunately, never regretting taking it.
Poppy spoke of his time during the service during the war with a humble pride. He served the majority of his time here in Canada but did go overseas as a part of a small group. All of the mechanics in the Force had taken a written test in order to determine a select few that would be trained to work on the great Rolls Royce engines in England and my Poppy was one of them. He would always say he never saw any "real action" over seas but he certainly did his part. I am so very proud of my grandfather for his service. I wear my red little Poppy pin with pride. I am also proud and grateful to each and every one of the men and woman who served and continue to serve, to protect our country and our freedom.