This really isn't my story to tell. But one I was told that changed the impact of this day for me.
Since our very first years, we've gathered. Held close in our mothers arms. For something we had no way of understanding. The poppy a new toy to fiddle with attached to our mothers coat. Stories were told about relatives we never met. The story short, for no one knew how it really went. Just that it did. Once in school, old enough to know the word war but not truly the meaning of freedom, we sat on the gym floor and listened to the veterans. We gathered quietly outside and stood in the cold and watched them lay the wreaths. The sadness on their faces a truth, not a gesture.
The cold she said, was what she noticed most.
The scene could not have been more different from the one we grew up with every November 11th. Everyone gathered on the tarmac, soldiers remembering soldiers in the very place our countries have made the most recent sacrifices. People remembering, who understand and know in a way I never can.
She stood there dressed in uniform, but instead of the biting cold November wind on her cheek, she felt the hot Afghanistan sun. Then over the horizon the thump thump thump of chopper blades cut through the ceremony and those needed scattered to meet the helicopter carrying one of their own.
It couldn't have been more real or surreal. Soldiers of the present remembering soldiers of the past. Some they called friends.
I'll never be able to imagine the reality they know, but I can be thankful and honour them.