Remembering and Reckoning

There's something about memory. The lakeside smells that bring you back to a summer day at camp; the taste of blood in your mouth, accompanied by the flash of emotion from a fistfight with your brother; the unmistakable sound of your grandmother's out-of-tune piano and the gray-brown colour of her hair.
Memory is a trick we play with time and space.

What are we remembering on November eleventh, exactly? Are we remembering the soft, wrinkled faces that have passed out of our lives? Are we remembering the almost-stirring speeches from statesmen who would like us to remember what it means to be "Canadian"? Are we remembering the metallic taste and deafening noise of trench warfare? Are we remembering the smell of church coffee and the stinging cold of a winter morning one year ago, when we stood around that same cenotaph in the middle of town and anticipated the sound of that same bugle, that lonely bugler who tells us our two minutes is over?

I thought about bringing a camera to the Remembrance Day ceremony this year. I had my Yashicamat all ready to go on the tripod. Then, at the last minute, I changed my mind.
Remembrance Day is not a day for pictures, not a day that we should immortalize in our albums or on our websites.
Remembrance Day is a day for memories that are already made.
Remembrance Day, for me, is a day of reckoning. A day of judgment. A day when I stand silent for two minutes and sort through the things I've done, the places I've been, the people I've loved. And after two minutes of remembering, I look at the names on that cenotaph, and then up to the cross that sits on top, and I ask myself if those memories are worth the price that was paid.

I don't think I'll ever be able to answer that question.

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