Remembering a Remembrance Day Past

It was only when I saw two Australian soldiers with their tray of poppies that I realized the absence of the poppy in Australia.

In the days leading up to Remembrance Day I had seen only one person wearing a poppy here. I also saw one television guest on the news wearing one. The television anchors were not wearing them – something that would be unheard of back home in Canada.

Certainly, Australia does remember and there are services and ceremonies all across Australia, but it’s not quite the same as in Canada. April 25 is ANZAC day and that is more the equivalent of our November 11. It is just another one of the infinite number of cultural differences you discover when traveling.

Today on November 11 the poppies have appeared on the morning news anchors and many around me attending the service at the ANZAC Memorial donned their poppy. It reminded me of a Remembrance Day I spent in Saudi Arabia in 2008. And, as it happens, I took along my half-filled journal from that trip with me on this one and discovered my journal entry. This is what follows – a journal entry titled How I spent Remembrance Day 2008:

_________________________________________________________________

As we drove to the Riyadh train station to catch our train to Hofuf, I remarked to the group that it was November 11th. One of the joys of traveling is losing track of time, as hours and days become less important than back home. I was glad I remembered today’s date. We shared our thoughts and feelings on this important day, its meaning, and how we would be remembering if we were in our home countries.

With the train pulling away from the station and the vast desert quickly approaching, I reflected further on the day. What a strange place I find myself on this November 11th and compare it with past Remembrance Days spent in the cold rain or snow at the Cenotaph in Charlottetown or the year I was so fortunate to be in Vimy Ridge.

Staring out the opaque train window which sheltered us from the blazing sun reflecting off the desert sand, I thought of the harshness and loneliness of the Arabian Desert and tried to consider the soldiers who served in conditions as harsh and lonely.

At that very moment, as if on cue, from the hundreds of songs on my iPod, I’m Dreaming of Home began to play – a song that was sung by the Confederation Centre Children’s Choir at the Vimy Ridge Rededication Ceremonies in 2007. It is a song that means a lot to me, for many different reasons, and is a song that I like to listen to when I travel – and today, this Remembrance Day, it brought me to tears.

I hear the mountain birds
The sound of rivers singing
A song I’ve often heard
It flows through me now
So clear and so loud
I stand where I am
And forever I’m dreaming of home
I feel so alone, I’m dreaming of home

It’s carried in the air
The breeze of early morning
I see the land so fair
My heart opens wide
There’s sadness inside
I stand where I am
And forever I’m dreaming of home
I feel so alone, I’m dreaming of home

This is no foreign sky
I see no foreign light
But far away am I
From some peaceful land
I’m longing to stand
A hand in my hand
…forever I’m dreaming of home
I feel so alone, I’m dreaming of home

Video of Confederation Centre Children’s Choir at the 90th Anniversary Rededication of the Vimy Memorial. I’m Dreaming of Home (also known as L’Hymne des Fraternizes) lyrics were written by Gary Lewis and Lori Barth and music by Philippe Rombi for the 2005 French film Joyeux Noël which tells the story of the famous ‘Christmas Truce” of WWI.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Dolcie Graham says:

    Beautiful words, for a special day. Thank you.

  2. Ashley says:

    The choir is actually performing this song at the Symons Lecture tomorrow (with Vimy video projected onto a screen behind them). Guessing you won’t be watching the live stream since it’ll be the middle of the night for you, but at least there will video footage of it afterwards. Not the same as watching them sing at Vimy, but hopefully the video projection might give a bit of that effect.

    Amusingly, I did come across a Harry Potter montage that uses the audio track of the choir singing at Vimy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-YSY7CqIYY.

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