Band of Brothers

I am watching Band of Brothers again, and it makes me remember people like my great-grandfather, a veteran, and a survivor of two world wars and many other battles. A world champion marksman, an Olympic medalist and a sniper- his medals are in the Canadian War Museum Archives. In his sixties, he apparently had not served enough and signed up for another tour of duty.  His home, in Ottawa, was full of silver and everything from all the championships he had won before serving in several wars. He never spoke about any of this, and my grandfather also never spoke of his service. It was just something you did. People like this make me thankful for the wonderful life I am afforded and humbled by what they did for all of us.

My husband Bill and I have many veterans in our family, and I can’t even think of which of them had it toughest: a sniper in WWI, a WWII infantry soldier in Italy; or a navigator bombing Germany in WWII. These people truly were the greatest generation and how they incorporated themselves back into daily life after what they experienced, building wonderful families, is equally amazing. Yet they did, and with this, several generations have followed and I truly hope I can live up to everything they  gave up for the world, their countries and their families.

WWII history has always fascinated me, and I am committed to remembering all that was sacrificed for freedom. I think it all started when I was very young, probably around six years old, when I was in Woolworth’s (a department store) with my grandmother. We were next in line at the checkout and I noticed the lady in front of us paying. She had a series of numbers written on her left wrist. After we left the store, I asked my grandmother why she had these numbers on her wrist. My grandmother, a very kind and clear person, unveiled the horror of concentration camps to me. She did it with great respect but also did it in a way most people would not tell a six year old. I am thankful for her approach, it shaped me in many ways.

My husband Bill with a bomber group reunion we sponsored.

Bill and I have had the great gift of meeting many World War II veterans; thanks to our success in uranium, we sponsored bomber group reunions over several years. I have heard many stories from these men, while we flew together on B17’s and B24’s. These stories are wide ranging. One man recalled being shot out of the air, parachuting, and breaking his foot upon landing. Then, rescued by a German farm family who hid him in their basement until the war ended. Another recalled lying about his age so at fifteen he could join the Air Force, and another getting married and immediately reporting to boot camp; and so the stories go on.

The stories shared are gifts I hope to never forget and when I get cranky at some minor modern day inconvenience I draw back and remember that lady in Woolworth’s or the scared soldier with a broken leg being cared for by a foreign family. I then stop whining.  I have it pretty darn good thanks to these people.


About the Author

Janet Sheriff

An innovative entrepreneur, Janet brings her extensive experience in all aspects of strategic planning, management, indigenous affairs and communications to start ups, new ventures and the mining & exploration sectors. Janet focuses her entrepreneurial spirit, leadership skills and vision to create new opportunities, award-winning innovative programs and new ways of conducting business. Her strong commitment to community engagement, sustainability and inclusion provides her the proven ability to work effectively and respectfully in cross-cultural environments.