They served


They served

FTLComm - Tisdale - Monday, November 10, 2003


As Prime Minister Chretien made his last speech to the house of commons last week he pointed out to the members that for each of them, as they travel around the world and see the way things are, that when they return to Canada, that the first thing that strikes the traveller, is how fortunate we are to live in this country.

Since the seventeenth century people have been coming to join the first nations people of what has become Canada and each has made their contribution, each adds something to what we are and most certainly will be.

At the turn of the century Canadians were asked by Britain to provide assistance in South Africa and they loaded up their horses and off they went to participate on behalf of this county in that conflict. (Beor War)

In 1914 Britain once again was in serious trouble, as what was most likely an economic conflict in Europe, turned into the most mechanised slaughter by humans seen up until that time and once more, Canadians all across this country, went to do their duty. Doing their duty meant serving as barbers, cooks, nurses, engineers and most certainly riflemen, sailors and pilots and many more than we want to remember did not come home, but many did, their lives altered and their view of humanity sadly damaged until they passed on.

It was clear, mid way through the 1930s, that war was a certainty with Japan drenching China in blood and Canadians were sent there to do their duty. Then in 1939 Germany launched its invasion of Poland and the low countries and the parliament of Canada made the decision to commit the lives of Canadians to this conflict. Once again they were drivers, mechanics, seamen, medics, nurses, doctors. They drove and died in tanks, jumped out of aircraft, flew bombers and fighters, manned the guns and directed ships, they did their duty and so many, did not come home.

I have met many who did survive World War II and each of them has to relive their part of the war each day they are still living. Their service and the sacrifice of their families at home, was made for a reason, often their own reasons, but ultimately it was because they responded to the needs of their country and its people.

But it didn't end with 1945, since than Canadians, because they are what they are, Canadians, have served with their armed forces in some really wild and woolly conflicts beginning with Korea, then long before Americans, Canadians were policing the Middle East as part of the UN's first true peace keeping mission, then in Cypress, a whole list of African countries, the former Yukoslavia where they still risk their necks every day.



A new era of international conflict has emerged as Canadians went to help out in the Gulf War, then once again Canadians went to Afghanistan where more than 2,000 work each day.

Canadians, by definition live in a free and open society, a society free and open enough that volunteers have stepped forward since 1900 accepting the responsiblity to uphold the govenment of the country and defend it and its policies where ever that may put the volunteer. Few Canadians were ever compelled to accept the responsiblity of serving their country and its people. Certainly, since 1945 every single soldier, sailor and aviator has done their duty out of their own personal committment. No one needed to tell them what it means to be Canadian and the summation of 136 years since confederation has been assured by their committment.

They served and as a group, you will discover that they represent the people who were originally here and have migrated here. Cree, Lakota, Ojibewa, Taltan, French, Ukranian, Pole, Russian, English, Scot, Irish, Chinese, German, Metis; with there being so many ethnic groups that make up Canada, we need not list them all, but we do need to realise that all of them have served and in turn, their service has determined what we are and will be.

When someone suggests we change our society to keep a trading partner, appease some security issue, or reduce the risk of terrorism, please consider what simple ideals must have in the past and continue to drive in the present, Canadian volunteers who wanted and want, so badly to stand up for this country just as it is. A place were there are personal freedoms, where minorities are protected, where no one needs to carry travel papers or a gun, a place where they can be Canadians. That's why they served.


Timothy W. Shire



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Editor : Timothy W. Shire
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