Archive for the ‘Remembrance Day’ Tag

Veterans Day 2017   1 comment

This blog always salutes our veterans of today in a more international manner, by recalling those who gave their all in service at one time or another, representative of the bravery those who are still with us showed.  This year, while considering what I would be writing about, I happened back across this story from World War II, not much remembered today by those of us obsessed with the fight against terrorism, or who champion veterans for more political purposes.  These four men show that there are many forms which bravery can take, and it can be exhibited even by those who swear never to take another’s life.

Learn more after the break.

For Our Veterans

veterans-day

Harper put up an excellent pair of pieces for her Veterans Day writing this week, but I decided to do something of my own.  In Canada, we call this Remembrance Day, and it’s more specifically to honour the soldiers and sailors who have fallen, like America’s Memorial Day, since the day’s origin lies in the end of what was then called the Great War, now World War I.  The Flanders poppy in my lapel derives from the poppies that dotted the northern European landscape, thus the inspiration for Canadian army doctor John McCrae’s “In Flanders Fields.”

Je me souviens….

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Veterans / Remembrance Day 2014

Final

On this 11th of November, let’s leave my usual talks about American veterans, and visit another country for a while — and reflect on recent history.

Canada, until this past month, has been largely ignored by terrorists.  Now, as a CBC writer has suggested, some of that innocence has been lost.  “Radical” Islamists have learned how to use the tools of the modern information age to gain adherents, and these converts are found around the world.  On October 20, a driver deliberately ran his car into two members of the Canadian Army, one of whom, Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent (left) from the province of Québec, later died of his injuries.  WO Vincent was planning on retiring in the near future, having served his country for nearly 30 years.

Two days later, another man, with his face wrapped in a keffiyeh to hide it, carried a loaded hunting rifle up to Canada’s National War Memorial, and there shot Corporal Nathan Cirillo (center), standing guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier twice before being chased off and pursued by another member of the Ceremonial Guard.  Cirillo, a member of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada, was standing his honor post as normal, with an unloaded rifle.  Bystanders attempted to revive the corporal and administer first aid, but he died en route to the hospital.

The gunman was not over.  He managed to elude pursuit all the way up Parliament Hill and made his way into Centre Block, the location of the House of Commons and the Senate.  Neither chamber was in session, but party leaders, including Prime Minister Stephen Harper, were meeting with members in caucuses in several rooms nearby.  Shots were fired, including one that wounded a security guard who tried to wrestle the rifle away from the gunman as he entered.  The shooter eventually holed up in an alcove…near the office of the Sergeant-at-Arms of the Commons.  The Sergeant-at-Arms isn’t just a ceremonial post; he is also responsible for security in the building, and Kevin Vickers (right, carrying the Mace of the House of Commons at the next House session following the shooting), emerged from his office with a loaded automatic.  Vickers, a former Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer with nearly 30 years of experience, did a dive-and-roll from behind a column and wounded the man, who was killed moments later by others in the security team.  A few days later, when Commons resumed, Vickers was given a standing ovation as he led the Speaker’s Parade into the chamber in the normal course of his more ceremonial duties.

It’s people like this that Veterans Day is for, to honor all the living who have placed themselves in harm’s way for the safety and security of our countries, and to remember those who, placing themselves in harm’s way, have paid the last full measure of duty.  I hope you’ll join me in saluting all military today on this day of remembrance.

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“Eleventh Hour of the Eleventh Day”

The wearing of a Flanders poppy on November 11 is not the fashion in the United States, though it still is in the countries and former dominions of the British Commonwealth.  Here, you see me beside a recreation of the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior, set here in Knightsbridge Region.  I feel it’s the appropriate thing, though, and so I have one on my lapel as I make my rounds today.

In Flanders fields, the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place;wait 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!…

Lt. Col. John McCrae, Canadian Army Medical Corps

On Veterans Day

Veterans Day

Taken at The Wall, November 11, 2008.

The Purple Heart you see here is legitimate in a sense, though I have never served in the armed forces.  I wear this sometimes, both RL and SL, as a tribute to my father, who served in the 329th Infantry during World War II, and was wounded in France.

While “the last argument of kings” is never a desirable thing (except to madmen), there are times when the men and women of a country have stepped forward to serve that country’s needs.  I salute them and their memory on this day.

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