Thursday, November 12, 2015

I lost my poppy - a story of Remembrance

Lt. Cmdr. Pierre Comeau in Afghanistan 2008/09
Sometimes you feel things more intensely when you are in a different setting.  Many of us have casually lost our Remembrance Day poppies over the last few weeks.  Lt. Cmdr. Pierre Comeau visited St. Michael’s, Matthew Halton, Livingstone and Canyon Schools before November 11 to talk about Remembrance Day and the soldiers' dream of peace.  Visiting schools is not new to him. In fact the above photo was taken just before he went to a school while deployed overseas in Afghanistan.  He explained, "The threat level was such that even for visiting an elementary school, we all had to be 'fully kitted'."  He read to elementary students the following letter which he wrote and sent home while in Afghanistan in 2008.

Lt. Cmdr. Pierre Comeau

I lost my poppy last night.

It happened sometime and somewhere between the nearby rocket blast and my reaching the safety of a bunker. You first hear the explosion and then hit the ground. If you don't hear any more hits you move swiftly to safer ground.

All Canadian soldiers in Kandahar wear the poppy just like millions at home do in November. But unlike home, the supply of poppies is very limited here. If you lose it, you go without during Remembrance Day. After the "All Clear" announcement I went back to my duties and noticed my poppy was gone. I retraced my steps in the darkness, and found nothing. Back to the bunker in daylight, still no poppy. It saddened me and then infuriated me. The bad guys didn't get me, but they got to me. And they did that because in the ensuing confusion I lost a most noble medallion, a symbol of the sacrifice of many. This Remembrance Day I will parade with my brothers and sisters in arms without a poppy, but not without a much deeper appreciation of its meaning.

- Lt. Cmdr. Pierre Comeau while deployed to RC(S) Afghanistan, Roto 06 October 2008-April 2009 on Operation Athena.

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