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Friend or foe?

A gentleman came in wearing a Legion blazer and navy beret, insisting they had both “shrunk” since last year at this time.

Coming home from a trip out west one year in November, we stopped for breakfast at a little town in Saskatchewan. The place looked rather deserted as we crossed the railway tracks. No trucks at the elevator. No cars at the general store. The school was closed. We drove around until we spotted the familiar Coca Cola sign that seems to mark every rural café.

As I opened the door the smell of hot coffee welcomed us in from the cold wind, the skiff of snow covering the ground and the heavy grey clouds. Winter was threatening.

The man who served us was a slightly built fellow of Asian descent. He was wearing a red poppy on the pocket of his white shirt. Why of course! This was November 11, Remembrance Day.

A gentleman came in wearing a Legion blazer and navy beret, insisting they had both “shrunk” since last year at this time. He was joined by two others in similar attire. The row of coffee drinkers gradually extended down the entire length of the café, and the friendly waiter was kept busy refilling cups and making change.

As we ate our breakfast I could pick up snatches of conversation regarding a service at the cenotaph. As the hands of the big clock inched towards 11, the coffee drinkers left, one by one. I wondered if any of them realized that the Asian man who had just served them coffee would 50 years ago have been their foe.

May we all learn to live together in peace. – Alma Barkman writes from Winnipeg

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