28 October 2007

A Pittance of Time for our forces

Although it's not yet November, poppies are starting to bloom on lapels in my province, and the veterans are showing up in malls, selling those tokens of remembrance.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter asked what we Canadians celebrate Remembrance Day for on 11 November--meaning is it the same as Armistice Day in the US? It depends on which country you're in, what it's called; Veterans Day, Memorial Day, Armistice Day...but it's for the same reason in each country; to honour the men and women of our respective country's armed forces who served in both World Wars, (and here in Canada, also the Korean Conflict and the Vietnam war, because some of our forces were in those events too). For those of us with loved ones in the armed forces today, we pause to think of them as well.

In Nova Scotia, this is a statuatory holiday, with schools, businesses and institutions such as the postal service and banks closed for the day. Thousands turn out for services in communities large and small, and I am always so gratified to see how many children and youth are attending the services again.

I am no fan of war, or war mongering rhetoric. But there have been times when military action has been needed, and men and women have answered the call...and continue to do so...and those people I will always honour and remember. I go to the service in Canning, then go to the cemetery in Berwick where my grandfather, his daughter and her husband--who served in WW1 and II, respectively--are buried, and lay wreaths for them. My family continues to have members who serve, and who have seen service overseas in peacekeeping missions and other operations; from Vimy Ridge to Kandahar, we remember.

The most powerful--and poignant--tribute to our veterans is the song "A Pittance of Time" by Halifax singer/songwriter Terry Kelly. Before you take a few minutes to watch the video, here's the explanation behind the song.

On November 11, 1999 Terry Kelly was in a Shoppers Drug Mart store in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. At 10:55 AM an announcement came over the store's PA asking customers who would still be on the premises at 11:00 AM to give two minutes of silence in respect to the veterans who have sacrificed so much for us.

Terry was impressed with the store's leadership role in adopting the Legion's "two minutes of silence" initiative. He felt that the store's contribution of educating the public to the importance of remembering was commendable.

When eleven o'clock arrived on that day, an announcement was again made asking for the "two minutes of silence" to commence. All customers, with the exception of a man who was accompanied by his young child, showed their respect.

Terry's anger towards the father for trying to engage the store's clerk in conversation and for setting a bad example for his child was later channeled into a beautiful piece of work called, "A Pittance of Time".

Some of the lyrics speak to the concerns of our world today, as well as remembering those of yesterday.

It takes courage to fight in your own war.
It takes courage to fight someone else's war.
Our peacekeepers tell of their own living hell.
They bring hope to foreign lands that hate mongers can't kill.

Take two minutes, would you mind?
It's a pittance of time,
For the boys and the girls who go over.
In peacetime our best still don battle dress
And lay their lives on the line.
It's a pittance of time

In peace may they rest,
Lest we forget why they died.
Take a pittance of time.

From the Lyrics, available here.

WARNING: It's a good idea to have tissues handy when watching this video. I have seen it many times--and even if I were to watch it a dozen times in a row, the tears would come every time.

Will you take a pittance of time this coming 11 November?


  1. Jodi, As a sister avid writer and extreme lover (madness actually) of cats, I visited your blog mostly to read the prose of another fanatical gardener such as myself.

    I was, however, immediately stopped dead in my garden-cat-loving-writing tracks by your entry "A Pittance Of Time" and the accompanying video. I cannot thank you enough for bringing this beautiful, heart-wrenching video & song w/its most significant lyrics to the attention of your blog's audience. It, too, brought tears to my eyes.

    I am an American, but half my familial roots lie in the Canadian soil of Newfoundland, where my Mother was born. I just threw that in as an aside, because one doesn't have to be Canadian to recognize and appreciate the impact and intent of that video. Be it Remembrance Day in Canada or Veterans Day in the U.S., we all should never forget the sacrifices of those who came before us and those still in uniform pledged to the service of their countries - regardless of whether we as citizens support those wars or conflicts.

    I wanted to comment upon your kitties and your garden writing, but I thought this subject deserved a comment all its own. Thank you again. Linda

  2. Thanks for the link! I'm going off topic on November 1 to post about the name change from Armistice Day to Veterans Day here in the US. Excellent post-very moving!

  3. Thanks for the reminder.
    I've copied the link to place on my MySpace

  4. As one who lived through the 1930s and 1940s, your piece struck a chord in me, as you can imagine!

    I shall post quite a lot of similar stuff on here in future, beginning with the piece I post every November 11

    Be well, amiga, if I may call you that?

  5. This is true no matter where you live. We should ALL be thankful of the military men and women who have served or are serving our countries.

    Thank you for reminding us to remind everyone of this powerful gift of life, remembrance and love.

  6. How relevant in today's environment of economic pursuit...thank you.

    As one of three interviewees and of the entire four person panel for a job today, I was the only one to don a poppy (UK).

    Given global prosperity, it doesn't need much to recognise the valuable contribution that our military personnel give to allow us to prosper in western society.

  7. Thanks for the link and reminder. We do not do enough to honor our veterans for the sacrifices they made. I've been watching the PBS special on WWII and it is very interesting. I wish my mom's three brothers, who all served in WWII, were still alive to tell us what it was like.

  8. Oh! it is good post

  9. Some of you ( especially Carol? ) might like to visit my blog, where I've posted a part one of a three part series piece about what it was like in Britain in 1941.
    There will be other posts on similar subjects in future

  10. That was a beautiful post and video. It's one I will share with my children and it is a good reminder to me to be grateful to our veterans. We are very blessed.

  11. Hi,
    Pittance of time really make us cry.We appear to be people silently crying for peace for the people in trouble and misery yesterday, today and in the coming days.Our togetherness may bring a little peace in the world, let us hope.You deserve praise for prompting such a mingling of minds in silence.

  12. I'm in my office on the island of Borneo, and I was thinking why am I wasting my precious (and too little) writing time scrolling through this blog, while enjoying your cats and plants along the way, when I came to this video clip that immediately stopped me cold and brought tears to my eyes. I kept thinking about my father in Pennsylvania who fought in WWII and my three sons, praying they never have to fight in a war, just or otherwise, but if they choose to do so, I pray that like my father they come back alive and raise their own families and they may even have a child like me who decides to live on some island on the other side of the planet where most people can not point to in their own mind (and maybe even with a world map), to write in order to touch people's lives. You sure did, and with your cats and plants too! Thank you for reminding me how to do this. I thoroughly enjoyed the clip, the two minutes of silence, and now it's time for me to go home and hug my children and be grateful for all I have, and for the opportunity to do so, which I might not have had if it wasn't for those soldiers who fought overseas and died.

  13. I just came accross your blog, and the 'pittance of time video'. I. luckily, have never lost anyone in a war, not even a friend, but that does not take away the empathic feelings of sadness that are conjured up by this song. I think it is a very good reminder to people of those that have fought and died from reedom and democracy. Our planet would be a very different place. God bless them all.

  14. I, too, chose Terry Kelly's incredibly powerful song as a way to commemorate Remembrance Day this year. This particular song/message seems more appropriate than ever, as year by year the meaning of the day seems to become faded, diluted, downplayed... dare we say, forgotten?

    But then, I remember as a child, standing in the rain at the cenotaph, watching a reporter from the local CBC radio station (of all people, imagine!) going along the edge of the crowd during the silence, trying to use that quiet time to interview school children. I think I was all of 8 years old, my first experience of the feeling of outrage... So, nothing new...

    Yes, we need to be reminded. Thank God for a musician like Terry Kelly who cares enough to lend his music to the memory. And thank you for writing a much more poignant introduction to it than I did, or ever could.

  15. Jodi
    I know this post is old but I stumbled across your blog while looking for something newer that Tery Kelly was involved in - "Two Minutes of Silence - A Pittance of Time". I absolutely love the Pittance of Time video and post it on my blog every Remembrance Day.

    First of all, let me thank you for a beautiful post. But secondly, imagine my surprise to realize that in the midst of a Google search I stumbled across another blogger from the beautiful Annapolis Valley. Then I looked to your profile and I believe we met many many years ago. I actually think we may have met on a couple of occasions and went out for coffee or a drink one night in Wolfville with a mutual friend.

    Anyway, I am pretty sure we have met although you likely don't remember. But I just wanted to say Hello.


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