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Old 06-27-2010, 05:00 AM
Location: Nanaimo, Canada
1,808 posts, read 1,521,642 times
Reputation: 962


Normally, I'd write something cheery here -- I've just moved into a new apartment, I'm travelling to see my girlfriend on Monday, and I'm financially set for at least the next two months.

This time, though, I'm occupied by one single event.

Two days ago, I returned to my hometown, for dinner with my family. I don't see them very often, so when the opportunity presents itself, I'll most likely take it.

Whenever I visit, we try and get out for a drive or a walk; I don't get a lot of exercise (translation: I'm lazy), so I welcome any chance to get outdoors. This time, however, our walk took us to an unexpected place.

You see, we went to a graveyard. Not just any graveyard, either, but the crash site of a World War II-era aircraft. I'll describe the site as closely as I can remember:

It's in the trees to one side of a logging road, a fair ways into the bush, and it's about three hundred feet into fairly thick forest; if you drove past it, you'd never even know it was there (though it's documented on some local maps and I'm certain the logging company knows about it).

Wandering down the path (it meanders a bit), you'll first notice a battered, weatherworn aircraft seat and the remains of what looks like an instrument panel; directly behind them is a decaying stump covered in red Rememberance Day poppies. In front of the chair is a small plaque, explaining that this entire area is a graveyard, and the crew of the plane were buried 'a short distance away'.

Walking another few yards up the path, you next come to the first sign of the aircraft itself -- a twisted, battered piece of green-and-white aluminum, half-buried in leaf mulch. There are other bits of metal here, too: old piping from the craft's internal systems, what looks to be a broken radio or intercom (I could only tell from what appeared to be the remains of its antenna coil), and an old ammo box, long empty.

A few feet up the hill, there's a lot of debris; more piping, part of the plane's cabin, parts of one of its engines. It gets hard to navigate at this point -- lots of trees and sharp drops. About a hundred feet east is the other engine, mostly intact, with a fuel or oil tank behind it (it's got a fairly thick cap on it, and it's mostly crushed). Propped up against the log is what remains of the aircraft's right wing; the star on the wing is clearly visible, though very faded due to age and weather.

Standing there, in those trees, with my hand resting on a battered piece of aircraft hull, was a very humbling experience. Looking at the debris spread across several meters of forest helped me to truly understand how sudden it all was for the plane's crew -- and how incredibly violent it was.

That someone willingly put themselves in mortal peril so that someone they've never even met, someone that likely wasn't even yet born, could live in peace and prosperity is a very humbling thought. That they were Canadian -- my countrymen -- fills me with a strange kind of honor.

I'm a concientious objector -- I don't believe in the use of war to solve a problem or right a wrong -- but I am honored by the sacrifice the pilots of that aircraft made. They knew they might not come home, yet they fought on until they couldn't stay in the air -- not out of any religious mandate, or because their holy book tells them to, but because they knew they had to keep on going.

Anyway, that's my humbling moment. I don't know if this is the right place to post it, but...I had to get it out.

Thanks for reading.

Tracey: When you can't run, you crawl. And when you can't crawl, when you can't do that...
Zoe: ... you find someone to carry you.
Firefly, The Message.
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