A Moment – Lest We Forget
My husband and I did our Christmas shopping yesterday.
Yes, I know. It’s early November. And I am quite infamously last-minute when it comes to pretty much anything.
But keep in mind that (A) we live a LONG way from Big Shops, (B) Dash and Violet were away on school camp* and therefore our shopping run was less fraught with hiding certain purchases, and (C) Mr Incredible is still recovering from double-knee surgery and therefore not working full throttle. It was a case of Now or Never. I tell you, as full-on as the six hours of travelling and six hours of shopping was, I have never been so ORGANISED for the Festive Season in my life.
It also helped me keep my mind of missing my pair of Ankle Biters. Who are not ankle level anymore, but growing up sooooo fast it makes my head spin. I have two nights and three days without them. That’s over 60 hours. Not that I am counting. *deep breath*
Anyway, this post is not really supposed to be about any of that. That’s just setting the scene.
Halfway through our shopping day, my husband and I were in KMart in Hinkler Place, Bundaberg. It’s one of those big, squeaky clean, could-be-anywhere kind of variety stores. As we headed from the garden section to the toys and entertainment aisles, the PA crackled into life with a young woman (she sounded about 18) announcing that, as it was November 11, a minute’s silence would be observed at 11am. In two minutes time.
My husband and I looked at each other – neither of us had heard a store make that kind of announcement before. Each year we buy a poppy to help raise funds for veterans, and I have attended many Rememberance Day dawn services, and known that TV and radio stations often observe the tradition. But we had never seen a retail outlet making a specific announcement about it.
I noticed the usual white noise of crowded conversations as we turned into the wide back aisle of the store with our loaded trolley – babies were crying, couples debating, shoppers laughing and calling out, with the muffled drumbeat of dozens of footsteps on shiny hard white floors.
The same young female voice came back onto the PA. She called for us to remember those who had given their lives, those who would not come home, those who were fighting, and those who had fought and returned. It seemed strange, that voice, those words, as we stood between the Ironman and Transformer toys and the Home Living section. But we stopped. Still. Silent. I noted that even babies seemed to mute their crying.
I looked ahead. Two men in their early 30s passed us – they were small and olive-skinned and continued to chatter away in their native tongue as they walked along. The silence around them slowly soaked in and they stilled, looked around and realised something was going on. They quieted, a little wide-eyed, obviously not quite understanding, but willing to echo the strange silent stillness of those around them. It was like someone had frozen us all.
I felt emotion tug at my throat – I thought of all those men and women who had placed the needs of their country above their own safety, now and in preceding centuries. I thought of the horses and dogs who had been involved in wars over the decades too. Brave and selfless. People and animals to whom we all owe so much.
Here, in the back aisle of a chain-store variety store, their presence was strong. How odd. How beautiful.
Lest we Forget.
We will remember them.
Yes we will. Even in the middle of KMart.
Where were you at 11am on November 11?
Is Rememberance Day observed in your part of the world? If not, is there an equivelent day?
*This artwork is from Catherine Pain’s website - she is a UK artist worth checking out!
**I have linked to the Anzac Appeal from the image of the soldier above, who appears on their website.