Attending Remembrance Day Services on November 11 has been a Tayler family tradition since 1919. As a youngster in the early 1950s, I was taught about the role played by both sides of my family during World Wars One and Two. In World War One, my grandfather Tayler was a captain in the forestry corps that shored up trench walls along the Western Front. In World War Two, my paternal uncle was killed off the coast of Sierra Leone while ferrying a fighter bomber to the Far East. My paternal aunt served in the women’s division of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF). That’s where she met her future husband, who was an aircraft mechanic in the RCAF. My father, who experienced a serious back injury just before the war, was unable to serve overseas, but he did serve in an army unit on Canadian soil that worked with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, a subject he rarely talked about. My maternal uncle was an RCAF Spitfire pilot who specialized in divebombing Nazi freight trains. He met and married his Scottish wife while stationed in England. My mother organized Red Cross activities, including preparing medical supplies, in a tent on our front yard. There was nothing unusual in any of this. That’s what everyone was expected to do during wartime. After the war, you got on with your life. And – an important ‘and’ – every year at 11 am on November 11, everyone attended a Remembrance Day service to – well – remember. The first Remembrance Day service that I took part in was in 1955 when I marched with my Cub Scout troupe to the Cenotaph in Wellington. I still recall the absolute silence of the occasion, broken only by the sound of boots marching on pavement and the wind blowing off Lake Ontario.
Attendance at Remembrance Day services is part of my genetic inheritence.
And I honour that inheritance, but not uncritically– my reading of history convinces me that much of the armed conflict in this world is rooted in the unchecked egos and greed of small elites who gleefully send others into battle to bolster their own political and financial agendas. When I attend a Remembrance Day service, I don’t honour the privileged elites. Instead, I honour my grandfather, my father, my mother, my aunt, my uncles and all the other people who serve their country.
And, thus, on Monday, November 11, 2019, I made my annual pilgrimage to a Remembrance Day service. I hope these photos of that service honour those who serve. Thank you.