It's 11.00 here, and somber reflection has made me decide to craft a slightly different post here.
I am blessed to have never felt war's grasp myself. I have utmost and everlasting respect for those who take up such a duty.
One of these people was my Grandpa. He served in the war in the Canadian Navy, and was a signalman. As a kid he would show me the photos, his old signalman's book, and even a book of bawdry soldier songs from the time. His stories of his service usually were linked to the photos: Ice covering the ship after a cold night in the Atlantic, for example.
A story he never told, and in fact I only found out about after he'd passed away, and only then from other members of the family, was that his ship was one of the many covering the landings at Normandy in June of 1944. Even though he was not one of those who had to sprint ashore amidst terrible gunfire, it is clear the time deeply affected him.
The story he did tell, and I am happy to remember it and now share it, was the end of the war. On the ship, patrolling the Atlantic, assuming the war was still on. The crew was put into a state of high alert when a U-Boat - one they weren't aware was even there - surfaced beside them. Before any had a chance to open fire, the hatch of the sub opened, and its crew surrendered. The German Navy had received the message to stand down before the allied troops got word the war was over!
Grandpa has photos of the moment, and even carved a likeness of the U-Boat that surrendered.
Not that it should ever be far from our minds, but especially today, and this week, as we engage in the pastime of wargaming, may we remember what it implies. Especially those who play Flames of War, or Bolt Action. Real people once fought and died using the tools of war we now model and play with. Their sacrifice is what gives us the freedom to play.