I remember my mother's uncle, my Great-Uncle Henry. He was a doctor, and I was very proud of the fact that he delivered me. Probably, when I was small, I thought it was one of the more important things Uncle Henry had done. I never knew, because nobody ever told me, that Uncle Henry was the father of a hero.
For some reason, no one ever talked about Mother's cousin Harry, who "died in the war" as we used to say of anyone who perished in World War II. Mom had a cousin, Jack, on her mother's side, who had "died in the war" and we knew about him. However, although we had met most of Mother's cousins from her father's side, and knew many of them, no one, not even Mom, ever told us about Harry.
H.H. MacKenzie Jr. was a Canadian pilot who was shot down over France in 1944. I believe it was grief that kept the family from talking about him to the younger generation. I don't think they ever really forgot about him. And I know there are people in France who never forgot him at all.
There are wonderful people in France who are still looking for the wreckage of Canadian planes they know were shot down in WW II. They had friends or relatives who saw the planes go down, so they knew the approximate area, and so they keep looking.
A couple of years ago, some of the wreckage from Harry MacKenzie's plane was found by a group of these intrepid searchers. They cleaned up the parts, traced the plane through the serial number on the engine, found out who had flown it, and then got in touch with my MacKenzie relatives in British Columbia.
On June 26 this year, the mayor of the French town of Sacy-le-Grand is going to name a street "Rue MacKenzie" after Cousin Harry. All of my mother's surviving MacKenzie cousins have been invited. Some of them are going to France to attend the ceremony, which will include representation from the Canadian Embassy and the French Air Force. Mom's cousin Ian told me about it, and asked if I would like to attend as well. I would like that, very much, and I will try to go. The cousin I never heard about has become my hero. He is buried in Beauvais, France, north of Paris. He was 24.
Posted for the letter H in ABC Wednesday,
Mrs. Nesbitt's alphabetical meme hosted each week
by her talented team.
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