Granda joined the army when he was 14; his mother tried to get him back when she found out, but he had no plans to stay on the farm. Soldiering was a grand job, he’d say, except when there was a war on. Before the war he was in Burma and India. Later he was at Dunkirk, & in North Africa. He saw the world and came back, to the town 10 miles up the road from the farm. He still worked for the army, and spent time at the Legion. He’d have his grandchildren marching round the living room, and saluting properly, but we didn’t hear many tales. I went to primary school with army children. People my age in Belfast or Derry or South Armagh had very different experiences of the army in their childhood.
Remembrance Sunday was for them, the old men. It was a day to acknowledge their service and their friends who didn’t come home. To consider all that was lost.
That all changed in 1987, when Remembrance Sunday became about all of us. The McSpecs lived in Enniskillen, we knew the people. We were all affected. This interview with Gordon Wilson still makes me cry.
There are many other veterans now, survivors of recent wars. Many other people have been lost. Young people, like Granda and his mates used to be.
None of it makes any sense. Loss, death, severe injury, homelessness, destroyed families, refugees. We will remember them all.