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I Didn't Say Thank you

By Katherine Burnett

Brothers Summer 1986 

There are lots of connections between tea and war, especially in British war time. A few years ago I wrote such a blog. But this blog is personal with no intention of making links to tea products that I love to share. Instead I want to reminisce and hope it will inspire you to do the same.

Childhood for me growing up in the 50s was somewhat idyllic. While driving in the back of our white Rambler station wagon, no seat belts required, my mind wandered as music from the front seat filled the car. The radio was not the source. No. It was Mom and Dad belting out tunes that were relevant considering WWII had recently ended and hope for a bright future was on everyone's mind.

My dad was the youngest of five brothers. They each went off to war. One did not return. They were born of Scottish ancestry and lived in Charlottetown. They loved to sing and the rolling of the 'rrrs' is still a distinct recall that makes me smile.

It's a long way to Tipperary, It's a long way to go.
It's a long way to Tipperary, To the sweetest girl I know!
Goodbye Piccadilly, Farewell Leicester Square!
It's a long long way to Tipperary, But my heart's right there.
The above tune was always followed by the one below.
(I just learned that 'lucifer' was a brand of matches)!
Pack up your troubles in your old kit-bag and smile, smile, smile.
While you've a lucifer to light your fag, smile, boys--that's the style.
What's the use of worrying? It never was worthwhile,
So pack up your troubles in your old kit-bag and smile, smile, smile.


Most of my childhood memories are of cottage campfires, cousins galore, and war songs. Mom and Dad's friends would gather by the piano downstairs and sing as I drifted off to sleep. I had no idea just what those songs meant to my Dad and idea.

Today we are told through modern pyschology that packing up our troubles and smiling is not best for our emotional well-being. But when I think back, my Dad and his brothers did just that. How horrific those 'troubles' were as they desperately kept silent, not wanting anyone to dwell on their pain.

My dad and I would talk about the rink in the backyard soon to be frozen, or about the tennis game I just played. Tennis was his favourite sport and he made sure we played. However, as we sat over a cup of tea many-a-time by the fireplace, I noticed he would drift off, wringing his hands gently, obviously in another world or time. 

As I have been through many upsetting experiences in life, I know that singing can sure help, but shoving all the troubles into a kit-bag can result in even more anguish. Yet that was the post-WWII era and 'count-your-blessings' was the expression of the day. The war was over and hope for a bright future was very real.

While they were living, I don't remember ever saying 'thank you.' I wish I had. But I'm sure their response would be something like 'we were just doing what was expected of us.' And that would be that - no dwelling on the past.

I honour them. I choose to remember what they did even if I don't know the horrible particulars.

My experience has no personal connections to other wars and current wars. Any knowledge I have acquired is through reading or watching movies depicting the harsh realities. It's very disturbing. War is awful.

I am glad for Remembrance/Veterans Day. 
I shout "THANK YOU" to the heavens to those warriors, my dad and his brothers. I didn't say these words when you were here, but I say them now.

1 comment

Peter Burnett

What an awesome tribute to our fathers who put in the “good fight”. Your memories are mine.
A big Thank You from me as well!

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