Sparing a thought for those who remained behind
This is what I recall most about the days preceding Remembrance Day when I was a child at home: My dad, Joseph Koenig, would always bring out a little blue suitcase, which contained a box of mementoes from his time in the army during World War II. He’d also bring out his medals, which were displayed in the glass front of a handmade wooden box. After bringing out his medals, he’d begin polishing them. When I got older, I was allowed to help him. He would make sure they were pinned nice and straight on his Legion uniform. This was done with lots of help from my mom, who would wear her Ladies’ Auxiliary uniform for Remembrance Day.
It wasn’t until Dad moved into a long-term care home that we found out exactly what else was kept in his special box. It
also contained a large envelope with all the postcards he’d sent home to Mom, and to each of my brothers and sisters—what a keepsake! Reading those cards brought a tear to my eye. The box also contained a bracelet, scarves and all of his shoulder patches. Also enclosed were a Canadian Army training pamphlet, a schedule for the military bus service, a soldier’s guide to Sicily as well as a soldier’s service pay book.
I wasn’t born until 1949, so I didn’t experience the war, but as an adult, I've had time to think about what it must have been like for my mom as well as my dad. It had to be difficult for Dad to head overseas to fight for his country, leaving his wife and three kids at home to fend for themselves. I can’t even fathom what it was like to spend five years away from home.
It had to be tough on Mom, too, being left to raise the kids at home— she must have wondered sometimes if Dad would make it back. I bet Dad had the very same thoughts in the back of his mind.
We owe a debt of gratitude to all those who made the sacrifice to give us freedom—as well as to the wives and children who stayed at home, trying to make ends meet. I am so proud of my Dad and Mom.
On Remembrance Day, when we thank veterans for their service, we should also spare a thought for those who remained behind.
Frank’s dad, Joseph, during wartime (above) and in later years as a Legion member (left).