Remembrance Day and Veterans' Day

My father, John Symchych, was a private, first class, in the Canadian Army during World War II. He’s 85 today and still tough.

He was promoted up to corporal once, they went out to celebrate, returned late, were considered AWOL, and he was busted back down to private.

Dad was chased by a tank, hit with tank fire while in a brick school house and blinded for days, never knowing if he’d see again, returned to active duty, hit with machine gun fire, bleeding on the battlefield, found by two German officers who gave him a coat and a flask of brandy, and eventually rescued by his Canadian buddies.

My Dad is my hero.

We have a great life in Canada and the US and enjoy many freedoms because of his courage…and speed (he out-ran the tank!).

Dad’s war experiences have been powerful in shaping my own life.

Several years ago when I was stressed about a corporate tax exam in university, I called my Dad.

“Are you in a fox hole?” he asked.

“Ah, no” I replied, wondering how this was going to help my academic stress.

“Is anyone shooting at you?” he demanded.

“No” was my meek response.

You’ll be fine!” Click.

Thanks, Dad, for giving us our freedom, helping us keep things in perspective, and teaching us how to act braver than many circumstances or common sense would have warranted.

And thanks to all military people, and their families, who endure danger, separation and worry to keep us safe.

On Remembrance Day and Veterans Day, please take a moment to appreciate our freedom and salute our military.

Copyright 2010. All Rights Reserved. Phil Symchych

4 thoughts on “Remembrance Day and Veterans' Day”

  1. God bless your father, Phil! And that story never fails to make me chuckle.


    Wes Trochlil
    Effective Database Management, LLC

    Author of “Put Your Data to Work: 52 Tips and Techniques for Effectively Managing Your Database,” published by ASAE and available here:

  2. Hi Phil: Your Dad was and is a great friend… I remember many fishing trips.. particularly in that 12 foot plastic-moulded jointly-owned boat!!

    What a great way: for you to observe this Remembrance Day… and for me to read the words you penned about your Dad.

    Thanks for sending your thoughts to me…… Uncle Peter

  3. Hi Phil,

    Thanks for sharing those memories with us. At the Unitarian Remembrance Day service this morning, we had an opportunity to light a candle and reflect on the meaning of the day if we wished to do so. I did light a candle for your Dad – and spoke of the impact of the war on his life – and the gratitude we all share for the bravery and courage of those who took up arms that we might experience freedom in this great country of ours.

    Aunt Norma

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