I hold a photo of my father –
on that last Remembrance Day –
am awed by the person we never knew.
Just fifteen, he signed on,
joined ranks with an elite squad,
trained for unarmed combat.
He wears his Commando’s beret,
medals proudly adorning his breast –
symbols whose meanings are now lost.
They were the best and the brightest –
sleuthing out enemy stores, carrying
operative data to oncoming troops.
He cried that day, as candles glowed –
tears for the fallen – “Good men,”
he muttered, squeezing my hand.
A suicide mission, he’d called it,
armed with a knife and hands
of steel – a black pill if caught.
By day, he never spoke of war,
at night, he screamed in terror.
Why such a mission? I asked.
He’d had his own secret cause –
a war waging within him –
bent on eradicating a tragic flaw.
War made my father – a disciplined,
regimented man of iron, intimidating,
fearless – machismo at its best.
He returned a hero, celebrated
with his hometown, and left again –
the lie still burning within him.
Father was a valiant soldier –
counted himself privileged
to serve beside the honourable.
At fifteen, a girl whose body
belied her existence, enlisted
in a fight to become a man.
(The original version of In Remembrance appeared November 11, 2015. I resubmit it here, edited, for my weekly challenge: sacrifice. My father sacrificed his life during the war, and then went on to sacrifice his true identity for the rest of his years. November 11th is Remembrance Day in Canada, a time to honour those who fought for our freedom. )