By John Ployer
Flight Sergeant Daniel William McInnis, taken from an unknown newspaper article (photo credits: Veterans Affairs)
In the middle of World War 2 thousands of Canadians and many hundreds of Islanders were serving overseas to defend the rights and freedoms we enjoy in Canada today.
While the great wars they fought in were decades before the birth of your average UPEI student, there are still many ways the stories of those who serves can impact us today.
One story that always impacted me was that of Flight Sergeant Daniel William McInnis.
McInnis was from the Peakes Road, not far from where I was raised. He was also a relative of my neighbors.
Every Remembrance Day service at my childhood church someone reads a poem that McInnis wrote while deployed in Europe. He sent this poem home to his family.
It tells a story of a man reminiscing of home, where he belongs, and the kind of peace he feels when he’s home. A kind of peace most of the world at the time could not enjoy.
It’s called “My Island Home.”
The bomber McInnis was piloting was shot down over Romania in 1943. There were no survivors.
Due to the way communications travelled in war times, the poem did not arrive to his family until several days after they learned of his death.
Imagine being his parents, receiving such a letter from your son who you know is already dead. Knowing how much he wanted to be home, but knowing he will never see PEI again.
This was the same situation experienced by the families of the over 42,000 Canadians who died fighting in World War 2.
They all had stories not very different from McInnis’. Not one asked for a war, no one asked to die.
These stories aren’t actually too distant. Older generations may know these stories from memory, other stories are being written down and shared as veterans and the older generations pass on.
It’s more than just a break from school, Remembrance Day contains a million stories about those who sacrificed for the sake of the rest of us.
Maybe you should take the time this Monday to go to a cenotaph and remember them.