By Chaplain Barbara L Putnam, CD | Canadian Armed Forces
My girlfriends laughed at me when I told them I would soon have a headstone at the National Military Cemetery in Ottawa. They laugh, but I’m a planner …and one day, hopefully in the far distant future, that stone will mark my final resting place. These distinctive military tombstones can be seen in nearly every cemetery across Canada, and on former battlefields wherever our service members have fallen. A name, a rank, and a service number mark the place of one who served Canada, and perhaps died in her service.
The little red poppies were just starting to bloom between the burial crosses in May 1918 near Ypres, France when LCol McCrae was inspired to write “In Flander’s Fields.” Recently, Brad and I wandered through the perfectly placed white markers in the Ottawa cemetery, and I couldn’t help but hear words of that poem in my head: “between the crosses, row on row, that mark our place.”
Marking our place in the world suggests having a legacy. Though few of us will have airports or bridges named after us, our kind words and caring actions may be meaningful to another human, helping change their life for the better. When we model the love that Jesus showed to us from the Cross, to anyone who needs it, this love will mark our place.
Each year, on November 11th we stand still for two minutes, in silence. This small but significant gesture signifies our respect for Veterans, and our desire for a better, safer world. When we leave our poppy at the Cenotaph at the end of the Ceremony, we don’t leave our hope. We bring that with us, into our schools, our workplaces, our homes. The hope we carry, and spread to others, will become that which will mark our place.
Friends, the torch has been thrown to us: “be yours to hold it high.” May Remembrance Day ignite your commitment to Christian service, and to loving God and all God’s people. Go, mark your place, for God and Country.