Tomorrow is Remembrance Day! My feeble experience was never to be. In 1994 the civil war in Bosnia between the factions of the Yugoslavians was at a height and thousands were dying, my friends John, an anaesthetist and David, a plastic surgeon went off to Sarajevo with Medicines sans Frontieres to work for a period of time in the fray. John visited me for lunch when he returned and we talked. I thought about it briefly and phoned the nurse-coordinater in Toronto for MSF and she said an orthopedic surgeon would be valuable and agreed to sign me on. The pianist and I went for supper and I told her what I was going to do but I was pressed to know why. I guess it was because John was so enthused with his own experience and I wanted a taste of the same. A family member of mine who was a military policeman and army officer in the Middle East told me that I was too old to go and my plan was silly. He said, "You are sixty years old and it's a war zone. You can't run on a road with pothole craters from explosives and carry a hundred pound pack and if there is conflict when you are in the operating room no-one is going to help you get out. You'll be on your own. " It may be that what might appear to be altruistic was a fraud on my part but my age and lack of fleet of foot was anything but fraudulent. The pianist had the good sense to let the matter drop as a momentary loss of reality and a return to reason. I can remember tomorrow and lament the loss of the young, tomorrow and every day, and be grateful for those who do work to care for the injured in hospitals where there is war. But it wouldn't be helpful to get in their way. I guess it is still true that your young men will have visions ; your old men will dream dreams.
For Jim's past posts, check out his old blog here: