Remembrance Day, November 11. Honor Thy Sons.

As November 11 approaches, it is only fitting to pay homage to Canada's proud military past. In recent years, our government has neglected our military and has turned a once proud heritage into a curious farce. This in itself is cause for shame and is just another poignant example of the loss leadership that absorbs this rudderless country. With this, this piece will remain on this post for the month of November. We begin with a poem written by a Canadian.

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders Fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders Fields.

- John McCrae

It is not surprising that many have forgotten about Canada's contribution during the Two Great Wars. Whether we had any direct interests or not in participating the facts of history secure that we nonetheless were present. Every year our Veteran's, a dying breed and treated with scant respect, color our shopping malls ready to pin a Poppy on grateful citizens.

Unfortunately, there have been some shocking disrespectful actions of ingratitude among some. In Quebec, nationalist politicians will at times side with classless musings in an effort to reminds people that Quebec was not interested in fighting and that it was a British Empire affair. Perhaps, but bringing this up during the one month where we all gather to respect those who did go - including many French-Canadians - is disappointing.

Indeed, Canada is a nation that has lost all sense of purpose - choosing instead to direct their pride into things of scant importance. A couple of years ago, the CIBC bank - one of the largest banks in this country - chose to not allow Veteran's to set up there tiny tables in their branches. This from a bank that boasts of its contribution to Canadian history in its commercials. I vowed, in whatever capacity, to always bring this up. The CIBC, IKEA and other companies like them should always be made to account for their poor actions.

Canada is a tough little nation. Many of the battles this young nation fought have often been overlooked by the Great Powers but were it not for their many victories - often victories that the Great Powers themselves could not achieve - the Germans would have had much more momentum. Here are some of the key battles:

Battle of Ypres - Belgium, 1915. Attacked under a cloud of chlorine gas from three sides by numerically superior German forces, the Canadian 1st Division, abandoned by their French allies, held on to the post until the Germans retreated at the cost of 6 000 Canadian casualties.

Battle of Mount Sorrel, 1916. Hand to hand combat of brutal nature marked this battle which included the 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles, Princess Patricia Light Infantry, the 5th Battery. Canadians, when over ran, fought to the last man but with their revolvers in their hands. The Canadians halted the advance.

Battle of Vimy Ridge - France, 1917. The Canadian Corps met all objectives by capturing this important 135 metre high ridge, key to the Hindenburg Line, defended at all costs by the Germans.

Passchendaele, Belgium 1917. Relieving New Zealand and Australian units, Canadians put an end to this battle at the cost of 8 000 casualties and pushed back a fierce German counter-attack.

Battle of Hill 70, Lens, France 1917. Using various original methods, the Canadian Corps took this chalk called Hill 70. The capture, at the cost of 1 055 killed and over 2 400 wounded, gave allies a clear view of Germans positions in Lens. By this point, Canada was showing the world it could take and hold points of importance.

Belcourt, France 1918. 100 000 Canadians stormed the Hindenburg Line. Four Canadian divisions met 9 full German divisions. A German officer was quoted as saying this was the 'blackest day' as Germany "buried all hopes of victory." In fact, Canadian fighting abilities had become stuff of legend among the Germans.

While what was happening on the ground was nothing short of remarkable for Canada - still a subject of the British Empire, Canadian airmen distinguished themselves with the likes of legends like Billy Bishop. All allied nations took notice. The British thought so highly of Canadian pilots - it is thought a Canadian (Roy Brown) shot down the notorious Red Baron - that they set p a recruiting and training program, which included Americans coming up to be trained, at Camp Borden in Beamsville.

Dieppe, France 1942. Canada's unnecessary raid of the beach resort becomes a disaster. Of the 4 900 of whom only 3 900 reached the beach, 983 were killed and 1 874 were taken prisoner.

Pachino, Italy 1943. Canada spearheads the Sicilian campaign with its 1st division. The campaign was also in Reggio Calabria where the West Nova Scotia Regiment, the Carleton and York Regiments took part. Later that year, the 1st Division was to also take a German stronghold in Ortona.

Normandy, France - June 6, 1944. The biggest amphibious operation im military history. 175 000 American, British and Canadian soldiers landed in Normandy. The Canadian 1st Parachute Battalion along with other divisions such as the 3rd Canadian Infantry, the RCN minesweepers and RCAF, made the deepest penetration of all Allied forces. 359 Canadians were killed.

And so it went on. Soldiers from a Nordic society seeking recognition and independence liberated Dieppe, Antwerp and Holland. During the Post-War era, Canada was a key member in establishing the United Nations. Canadians were to take help their American friends in Korea, Vietnam, the First Gulf War with Iraq and the War on Terror in Afghanistan. In a symbolic moment of the Golden Age of Canadian identity, Maurice 'The Rocket' Richard became the first NHL player to score 50 goals in 50 games. Canada's eminence and their place in the world was limitless.

Alas, there was a limit. A price ceiling if you will. Contemporary Canadian leaders exhibit an inability to fully grasp this country's true spirit. Once a rugged and individualist nation with limited government that understood its role in the world, Canada is now a rudderless, misguided collection of 'follow the polls' politicians. Canada is now a nation that demands government handouts in the form of equalization payments for its provinces and subsidies for its industries. It is a nanny state in comparison to what it once was.

Canadians no longer stand on their own two feet. The must be propped up with a cane. Canadians seem unaware or disinterested in returning to a time when we really mattered. In a larger sense, some citizens in the West have taken to mocking our liberties. They forget that liberty is a precious commodity that is sought after by wicked people. They forget, in their rebellious questioning, that once upon a time freedom was threatened and fought for. It is no womder why some downplay what we face today. Propaganda perhaps. It's a good kind though. Peace at all costs has a downside. We must seek it but not in compromise. We have been fed a whole wagon of leftist special interest jargon. In the process of our well-intentioned and vain social engineering, we have forgotten who we are. The first casualty was our military.

A first gesture to recovering a sense of ourselves is to make sure we take a moment to reflect and recall the sacrifices made by a generation on Rememberance Day, November 11.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous11/09/2005

    Thank-you for reminding us to take time on November 11th to reflect on how many sacrifices our military personnel have made. It is so very important.
    (Aside: thank you for the info about the autism charity)


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