I can't tell you his name, because I signed a confidentiality waiver that was longer than my arm. But, I'll tell you his story.

It was my first week in a new job, and one of the tasks assigned to me was to open the safe and go through the last effects of a patient. I needed to inventory them, and then figure out what to do with them. The family didn't want them, and while there wasn't much (nursing homes don't have a lot of room) they were precious enough to him that he asked the care facility to put them into safe keeping.

Now, I suppose if this was a made for TV movie, there would be love letters or letters from the front of the last great war, or something. But, there wasn't. There was routine correspondence from bill companies and the Canada Revenue Agency, and a few other odds and sods. Finally, there was his wallet. The usual, a driver's licence, expired for 5 years, a credit card, expired for 3, a library card, some store club cards, photographs of children who were likely all grown up, a dress photograph of a soldier and Royal Canadian Legion memberships.

There were 30 years of memberships in that wallet. His driver's licence had expired, his credit card had expired, but the legion card, that last one, it coincided with the year of his death. Clearly, his identity as a soldier had been more important than his identity of a driver. He had made some effort to maintain this identity. The photograph of a young man in a uniform told me told me, he was a soldier once and young.

With a negative response from the family, I contacted the Public Guardian, and in the same conference room, shortly before Remembrance Day, I handed over his effects. We went through them one by one, holding them up, and ticking them off our respective inventories, bureaucratic requirements making the whole experience seem much more important than it really was.

Finally, as they wheeled this box away, walking back to their office, I returned to my desk. With a sense of unease - unease predicated upon not quite sorrow, but perhaps something I might define as dolor. A notion that this man, who served my country, who indirectly served me, had passed from this world, and no one seemed to care.

Mr. Spit, a former soldier, would tell you that soldiers do not fight for their country, or the abstract notion of democracy and freedom, they fight for their friends. They live and they lay down their life, for their friends. I phoned the Public Trustee back to make sure that they would notify the Legion, to notify those friends.

I went that year, to the legion by my house, to their ceremony, and I stood at the back, and when everything was said and done, I left a small bouquet of flowers. I will stop again today, to remember. At the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month, Mr. Spit and I will stop. And later today, I will leave some flowers. To remember a soldier once, and young.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.
Laurence Binyon
for the fallen