In the US it’s known as Veteran’s day and in the UK it’s called Armistice Day. Either way, the 11th of November remembers the day that WW1 ended on the 11th Day, at the 11th hour, all those years ago but also offers the chance to honour and acknowledge all of those who have served in war or peace and gives thanks for their sacrifices.
It is a chance to honour those who sacrificed so much for the very freedoms we enjoy, and perhaps maybe in a different way, are still fighting for even today.
I chose to dedicate this week’s Wild Atlantic Wednesday post to Veteran’s day for two reasons. Firstly, as you all know, Solas is my golden oldie. My 22 year old seahorse who has been with me for nearly 21 years now. He is known as a veteran horse, only by age though! You all know Solas still thinks he is a 3 year old!
Golden Boy has shaped most of my life, bringing me much joy and happy memories, while also teaching me hard life lessons of dedication, commitment, and at times, failure (I’m thinking of our one and only attempt at eventing together… didn’t end well!). But As cliché as it sounds, Solas taught me from very early on that if I’m gonna get on in life, I’m going have to learn to dust myself off and get back on every time he, or life, bucks me off.
The other reason I chose to this theme is to celebrate a day which marks the sacrifice of so many, so that we may live in in a world where democracy is respected and revered.
I did not have the privilege of ever meet my grandfather, he unfortunately passed away long before I came along. He was a soldier in the Cambridgeshire Regiment, a British defence force sent to Singapore during WW2, who were subsequently ordered to surrender to the Japanese Imperial Army. As a result, he would spend 4 years as a Japanese prisoner of war, forced into slave labour, building the “Death Railway” from Thailand to Burma.
784 members of the Cambridgeshire Regiment died in these camps between January 1942 and August 1945, and one can only imagine the horrors that those who survived witnessed before being liberated in September, 1945. But they survived.
Once liberated, my grandfather and his comrades would spend months in hospital, being nursed back to health having suffered from malnutrition, starvation and ill treated wounds. Having nearly lost his leg, he claimed it was a Japanese doctor who, in the end, saved it from amputation.
To me, my grandfather was not only a survivor, he was a hero. What he, and many others endured is unimaginable. An experience, that if you were lucky enough to survive, would ultimately change the course of your lives for ever. And although I never got to meet him, who he was, what he endured and what he and his comrades stood for has shaped the way that I see the world and has ultimately helped to make me who I am today.
I wouldn’t be here only for a chance meeting on a London bus which led to the marriage of a former British soldier, and a proud Irish woman. A woman, who grew up on a small island off the west coast of Ireland, surrounded by the Wild Atlantic. A place that he (my grandfather that is) grew to love more than anywhere else, I am told.
Nanny (my grandmother) had the pleasure of knowing Solas and seeing me ride too. Watching Solas graze in the garden she’d say, “he’s lovely, isn’t he?” I sometimes wonder what my grandfather would have thought of him, and me. I’m sure we would have shared a love for the sea and for the little beach overlooked by the little hill called Glosh.
Glosh… A little hill on the edge of the world, overlooking the Wild Atlantic and where a little palomino colt was born, nearly 23 years ago….
Happy Wild Atlantic Wednesday – A Wednesday dedicated to the Veteran’s in my life, and to yours as well.