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Sunday, November 11, 2012

I Will Remember You

The above piece that you all just heard is the musical piece known as “Taps”.  It is usually played at the funeral services of those who served in the U.S. Military, and is typically performed using a bugle or a trumpet.  The song is also played at flag ceremonies and is a common song heard at various meetings of the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and Girl Guides.

It’s also a song that holds a lot of meaning, especially for today.

The 11th of November is a date that has three different names, depending on what nation you happen to live in.  If you are Canadian, like myself, or live in a country that is part of the British Commonwealth of Nations, today is Remembrance Day.  If you live in the United States, today is Veterans Day.  And in countries such as France and Belgium, this is Armistice Day.  Each of these days first originated in 1918.  On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the armistice was signed between the allied nations of the first World War and Germany, which effectively ended World War I.

Since November 11, 1918, millions of people all over the world have paused every November 11 at 11:00am to reflect and remember those soldiers who have passed on during combat missions in the fight for our freedom.  These include soldiers who have died in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War, and Operation: Iraqi Freedom.  And there are many ways in which we pay tribute to our fallen heroes.

We can wear a poppy (a symbol for Armistice/Remembrance/Veterans Day that was taken from John McCrae’s poem “In Flanders Fields”) over our hearts in remembrance.  We can visit the cenotaphs and war memorials all over the world to pay tribute.  And we observe a moment of silence (lasting two minutes in total) at 11:00am to stop and remember those who died for us so that we can still have the freedoms that we have today.

That’s partly the reason why I chose to play “Taps” at the very beginning of this blog entry.  I want everyone to take a look back and really understand what some of these men and women gave up in order for us to remain free to be whoever we want to be.  Some of these soldiers were our fathers, grandfathers, great-grandfathers, brothers, sons, husbands, wives, daughters, sisters, mothers.  Many went off to war never seeing their loved ones ever again.  That’s a huge sacrifice for these heroes to have to give so that we could live in peace.  It’s why I feel strongly about Remembrance Day, and why I feel that we owe it to our fallen comrades to remember them with the dignity and valour they rightfully deserve.

So in keeping with the spirit of Remembrance Day, I thought that I would choose a song from the Sunday Jukebox that goes along with the idea of that sacrifice.  A song that depicts the loved ones left behind after a family member or friend goes off to war, and the grim possibility of them never coming home again. 

Well, I decided to make a bit of a compromise in that regard.  While there were several songs that I could have used, only one actually had a music video that had the very visual aids that I was searching for.

Although I already did a spotlight on the artist who sang this song in the early beginnings of this blog, it’s really the song I want to focus on, not the artist.

ARTIST:  Amy Grant
SONG:  I Will Remember You
ALBUM:  Heart In Motion
DATE RELEASED:  March 31, 1992

Now, as far as the song’s success on the charts goes, there’s not a whole lot to say about it.  It was one of the lowest charting singles released from Amy Grant’s “Heart in Motion”.  However, it was also the seventh single to chart from the album, which goes to show just how successful the album was.  And why shouldn’t it have been successful?  It was Amy Grant’s first album that transitioned her from a contemporary Christian artist to a major pop star.  And, hey, the ballad did make the Top 20.  There’s quite a few artists out there who could only dream of having a song make it that high (though Amy Grant did have songs that charted higher such as “Baby Baby”, which topped the charts in 1991).

Some of you might be wondering why I specifically chose this particular song for this day.  On the surface, it doesn’t appear to be a song that really fits the theme of today.  For most of us, the song appears to be about experiencing a break-up in a relationship, or trying to get over a broken heart by remembering the good things about a relationship.

This is where the music video comes into play.

I’ll admit that when I was watching the video for the first time, I couldn’t really tell whether it was all the same storyline, or if it was three different stories going on at once.  The whole video is designed sort of like a scrapbook or a photo album, and as pages are turned, we see the images of several scenes fading in and out of the background.  Amy is singing in some of the photographs, but we also see a man swimming in a pool, a couple who is very much in love, various images of people saying farewell at a train station...

...and several images of soldiers going off to war.

There are also images of people checking their mailboxes for letters (presumably from their loved ones who are fighting in a war), and towards the end of the video, we see a woman reading a letter, looking at it in shock, and breaking down in the arms of someone else in obvious grief.

Now, I’ve never been in a situation where I have had to see one of my loved ones go off to fight battles overseas...but I am positive that quite a number of you who are reading this blog entry right now have.  And one thing that this video does is showcase the loss of someone through different perspectives.

The obvious loss is that of those left behind.  The wives, the children, and other family members of those soldiers who never came back home again.  But remember at the very beginning of the video where we see two soldiers leaving the front of a house together?  You see both of them make an appearance right around the time in which the bridge of the song is sung.  You’ll know when that time arrives when you start seeing images of flames superimposed over an image of Amy singing on the beach.  There’s a rather graphic set of black and white shots that show one of the soldiers in camouflage uniform trying to avoid the gunfire and explosions surrounding him.  Unfortunately, he ends up getting hit by a round of gunfire and dies shortly the arms of the other soldier who was with him.

And I think that a lot of us probably don’t realize that in many ways the very soldiers who survived the war suffered losses as well.  Many of them watched as their friends and colleagues died in battles, and some were left with physical and emotional scars as a result of it.  I couldn’t imagine watching one of my friends die right before my eyes.  It must be an image that is burned in the eyes of any war veteran.

In my eyes, Amy Grant’s “I Will Remember You” could symbolize the loss of a relationship, or remembering the death of a loved one.  But given the imagery that we have seen in the video, I think that the lyrics could also be used as a symbol of remembrance to those who died for their country.  I think in a lot of ways, whether we were related to the fallen heroes of previous wars or not, they will forever be remembered and loved by those who see them as defenders of nations and heroes of freedom.  I remember in my youth meeting a couple of veterans who fought in the second World War, and being absolutely blown away by the stories that they told us about what life was like back then.  Some of the tales were heroic, but some of them were tragic as well.  So many lives were lost, and so many families were heartbroken.

But as long as we keep the memories of those who lost their lives in times of war, in some way, they never really fade away.  They live on in the hearts of every man, woman, and child. 

So many years come and gone
And yet the memory is strong
One word we never could learn
True love is frozen in time
I’ll be your champion and you’ll be mine
I will remember you
So please remember
I will remember you

To end this blog entry off...a re-posting of the John McCrae poem, “In Flanders Fields”.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

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