Remembrance Day (or Veterans Day, for those south of the 49th) is coming around again, next Tuesday. As far as I am concerned this is one of the most important days of the year. This is the day we set aside a few minutes of our time to honour those people who have fought and died for the freedom that so many of us take for granted. The soldiers, sailors, airmen, pilots, nurses, doctors, officers and countless other men and women of our Armed Forces were and are out there every day so that we can enjoy what we have. Next time you take a ferry trip, and remark about the beautiful scenery and how fortunate we are to live how and where we live, remember those people who paid for that. To use an overused, yet powerful phrase: "Freedom is not Free".
I have been at the Remembrance Day ceremony held in Sidney since I was 6 years old. I have missed one year since then. As a cadet, I had a few opportunities to meet and talk with modern day heroes. One such person received a medal for bravery for saving several of his fellow soldiers from inside a hospital in Afghanistan that had been ambushed by Taliban fighters.
So, on November 11th, take two minutes, and reflect on what freedom means to you. Take those two minutes to thank those people who gave it to you.
This is a powerful video, by Terry Kelly. The song has since been used by the Royal Canadian Legion to promote awareness for Remembrance Day.
Post by Low Light Mike on Nov 5, 2008 21:49:26 GMT -8
Thanks for posting that, Nick.
I'm a big believer in pausing to remember, as an explicit act of our remembrance.
It's one of the most meaningful holidays to me.
My admiration isn't just "because of our freedom", but also simply to honour those who obeyed and went where they were told to go (ie. a soldier's obedience in service of his/her country). That sentiment takes the politics away for me, and lets me focus on those who simply did what their country asked of them.
I also have a love of history, and dramatic moments. Nov.11th gives me lots of reason to think, and then to pause and show my respects.
I'll contribute more of my thoughts re specific things that capture my intrigue, between now and Nov.11th.
I can't really find the words to express how deeply the sentiment runs for me...
I consider that there are certain experiences one can have that are almost akin to war without the noise and guns... a silent war, if you will; but just as much of a deadly struggle and just as devastating emotionally. In that way I think I could at least begin to understand the trauma of the battlefield.
My favorite part of Nov. 11th is always to hear them read The Ode, because I think it sums up all the sentiments possible in one simple verse.
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.
LEST WE FORGET
For more of a sentiment, I submit my current signature photo...
Last Edit: Nov 7, 2008 20:01:28 GMT -8 by Mill Bay
John Weir Foote was born in Madoc, Ontario, on the 5th of May 1904. He was educated at the University of Western Ontario, London; at Queen's University, Kingston; and at McGill University, Montreal. He then entered the Presbyterian Ministry, serving congregations in Fort-Coulonge, Quebec and Port Hope, Ontario. In December 1939 he enlisted in the Canadian Chaplain Services and was posted to the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry. Following the action described in the citation, Major Foote was taken prisoner and was not released until the 5th of May 1945.
Major Foote is the only member of the Canadian Chaplain Services ever to be awarded the Victoria Cross
CITATION At Dieppe on 19th August 1942, Honorary Captain Foote, Canadian Chaplain Services, was Regimental Chaplain with the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry.
'Upon landing on the beach under heavy fire he attached himself to the Regimental Aid Post which had been set up in a slight depression on the beach, but which was only sufficient to give cover to men lying down. During the subsequent period of approximately eight hours, while the action continued, this officer not only assisted the Regimental Medical Officer in ministering to the wounded in the Regimental Aid Post, but time and again left this shelter to inject morphine, give first-aid and carry wounded personnel from the open beach to the Regimental Aid Post. On these occasions, with utter disregard for his personal safety, Honorary Captain Foote exposed himself to an inferno of fire and saved many lives by his gallant efforts.
During the action, as the tide went out, the Regimental Aid Post was moved to the shelter of a stranded landing craft. Honorary Captain Foote continued tirelessly and courageously to carry wounded men from the exposed beach to the cover of the landing craft. He also removed wounded from inside the landing craft when ammunition had been set on fire by enemy shells. When landing craft appeared he carried wounded from the Regimental Aid Post to the landing craft through heavy fire. On several occasions this officer had the opportunity to embark but returned to the beach as his chief concern was the care and evacuation of the wounded. He refused a final opportunity to leave the shore, choosing to suffer the fate of the men he had ministered to for over three years.
Honorary Captain Foote personally saved many lives by his efforts and his example inspired all around him. Those who observed him state that the calmness of this heroic officer as he walked about, collecting the wounded on the fire-swept beach will never be forgotten.'
Post by Low Light Mike on Nov 10, 2008 16:01:26 GMT -8
Here's Cy Peck's Victoria Cross citation:
War Office, 15th November, 1918.
His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the award of the Victoria Cross to the undermentioned Officers, Noncommissioned Officers and Men: —
Lt.-Col. Cyrus Wesley Peck, D.S.O., Manitoba R.
For most conspicuous bravery and skilful leading when in attack under intense fire.
His command quickly captured the first objective, but progress to the further objective was held up by enemy machine-gun fire on his right flank.
The situation being critical in the extreme, Colonel Peck pushed forward and made a personal reconnaissance under heavy machine-gun and sniping fire, across a stretch of ground which was heavily swept by fire.
Having reconnoitred the position he returned, reorganised his battalion, and, acting upon the knowledge personally gained; pushed them forward and arranged to protect his flanks. He then went out under the most intense artillery and machine-gun fire, intercepted the Tanks, gave them the necessary directions, pointing out where they were to make for, and thus pave the way for a Canadian Infantry battalion to push forward. To this battalion he subsequently gave requisite support.
His magnificent display of courage and fine qualities of leadership enabled the advance to be continued, although always under heavy artillery and machine-gun fire, and contributed largely to the success of the brigade attack.
Lt. Col. Peck was one of 7 Canadians to have been awarded the Victoria Cross re that same day of action.
My father is still alive, and at age 83 and a half he's still "with it". I am so proud of him every Remembrance Day.
In 1941, at the age of 16, he went to work for the company that manufactured Lancaster Bombers and helped assemble the planes at a Factory north of Toronto. On his 18th Birthday he enlisted and joined the Royal Canadian Air Force, eventually serving as a Wireless Airgunner in the very planes he helped to build. He served in England in 1944-45, then served in the Canadian Signal Corps for 20 years after that. He was stationed at what is now the Boundry Bay Airport, the old listening post.
Every Remembrance Day I either spend it with my dad, or call him and tell him how much I love him, and how proud I am of him. So many of his generation made the supreme sacrifice and never returned home. We would share a beer at the Legion and he would tell me of this airman or that friend in the Infantry, who never came back. We'd raise our glasses and toast those brave souls.
Dad never forgot that it wasn't just the front-lines. He had deep respect for those who served further back, for those who took up the slack at home and kept industry and life going, and especially for those who waited for news of their loved ones. He reminded us that the effort was total.
I will call him tomorrow. There is so little I can say or do that would adequately honour those who made the sacrifices his generation did.
I will do as I always do, and take a time of personal reflection, and take my guitar and play songs that he loves - "And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda" or "Over The Hills and Far Away". But it's just me singing about people who were braver, stronger and more giving than I think I could ever be.
Last Edit: Nov 10, 2008 16:21:47 GMT -8 by Deleted
Post by Northern Exploration on Nov 10, 2008 17:49:23 GMT -8
For those who can't attend a ceremony the NFB is providing the following:
"The National Film Board of Canada is invites all Canadians to share the remembrance activities by watching Claude Guilmain’s Front Lines, an outstanding artistic contribution to this important event.
"The film will be available for streaming all day long at www.nfb.ca/armistice on Remembrance Day, Tuesday, November 11, starting at 9:00 am, and will also be shown on television and at special screenings."
I think this year will be one of the few that I haven't made it to a ceremony. Peter Mansbridge is hosting from York Cemetery here with a look back at Vimy Ridge and then the same NFB film as above. The live coverage of the service at the War Memorial in Ottawa will be part of that broadcast. So I hope to at least get in on that.
As I said last year, I am hoping to one of these years get to Ottawa for the ceremony there.
Queen of Prince Rupert at Bear Cove - Thankyou for your years of service
Post by shipdaughterwife on Nov 10, 2008 20:49:17 GMT -8
My parents, grandparents and other ancestors, were all from Great Britain. I have heard many stories of what they had to put up with during both wars. Some of the stories were not very pretty. I could not imagine what life was like then, it was very tough. Especially in Britain, when at night all the lights had to be out, if one didn't want to get bombed. None of my Great-grandparents children died in the war, but my great-grandmother's brother's and sister lost a couple of their sons. What sticks out in my mind is that my Great Uncle, who lied about his age in order to go to war, was shipped off to France ( WWI) He and some buddies were sitting on a log, when they were shot at; a bullet went right through my Great Uncle's hat, but did not hit his body. He was one of the lucky ones and lived to tell the tale. Many young men, lied about their age, and went to battle in both WWI and WWII and never made it back home. (Many of these boys were only 16 or 17 and the legal age to join the forces was 18.) Some of the men that returned from war were never the same again.
Post by D'Elete BC in NJ on Nov 11, 2008 9:51:30 GMT -8
Besides the Armistice ending the Great War, what other historically significant events occurred on November 11th to add even more weight to this day. Here's a short list of US Navy events I found:
1870 - Navy expedition to explore the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, southern Mexico, commanded by CAPT Robert W. Shufeldt, enters the Coatzacoalcos River to begin a survey for possible interoceanic canal. Support provided by USS Kansas and USS Mayflower.
1920 - Lenah S. Higbee becomes the first woman to be awarded the Navy Cross. It was awarded for her World War I service.
1921 - Washington Naval Conference begins.
1943 - Two Carrier Task Forces strike Japanese shipping at Rabaul, sinking one carrier and damaging other ships. Raid was first use of SB2C Curtiss Helldivers in combat.
1954 - November 11 designated as Veterans Day to honor veterans of all U.S. wars
1966 - Launch of Gemini 12, with CDR James A. Lovell, Jr., USN the command Pilot. Mission lasted 3 days, 22 hours and 34 minutes and included 59 orbits at an altitude of 162.7 nautical miles. Recovery by HS-11 helicopter from USS Wasp (CVS-18).
1981 - Commissioning of first Trident-class Nuclear Powered Fleet Ballistic Missile Submarine, USS Ohio (SSBN-726).
Seeing that list got me started; some other events that took place on Nov 11th:
2006 - The New Zealand war memorial monument was unveiled by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in London, United Kingdom, commemorating the loss of soldiers from the New Zealand Army and the British Army.
2004 - New Zealand Tomb of the Unknown Warrior dedicated at the National War Memorial, Wellington.
1992: The Church of England votes to allow women to become priests.
1972: The United States Army turns over the massive Long Binh military base to South Vietnam.
1967: Vietnam War: In a propaganda ceremony in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, three American prisoners of war are released by the Viet Cong and turned over to "new left" antiwar activist Tom Hayden.
1965: Rhodesia (now called Zimbabwe) was declared independent by the white minority regime of Ian Smith.
1962: Kuwait's National Assembly ratifies the Constitution of Kuwait.
1949 - WTTV TV channel 4 in Bloomington-Indianapol, IN (IND) 1st broadcast
1940: The Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm cripples or sinks nine Italian warships in a surprise attack at Taranto.
1940: Armistice Day Blizzard: An unexpected blizzard kills 144 in U.S. Midwest.
1923 - Eternal flame lit for tomb of unknown solder, Arc de Triumph
1921: The Tomb of the Unknowns is dedicated by US President Warren G. Harding at Arlington National Cemetery.
1919: The Centralia Massacre in Centralia, Washington results the deaths of four members of the American Legion and the lynching of a local leader of the IWW.
1919: Signing the Versailles Treaty
1918 - Emperor Charles I of Austria abdicates.
1909 - Construction of navy base at Pearl Harbor begins
1865: Treaty of Sinchula is signed in which Bhutan ceded the areas east of the Teesta River to the British East India Company.
1865 - Mary Edward Walker, 1st Army female surgeon, awarded Medal of Honor
1864: Union General William Tecumseh Sherman begins burning Atlanta, Georgia to the ground in preparation for his march south.
1675 - Gottfried Leibniz demonstrated integral calculus for the first time to find the area under the graph of y = f(x) function.
1673 - Second Battle of Khotyn in the Ukraine, Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth forces under the command of Jan Sobieski. defeat the Ottoman army. In this battle, rockets of Kazimierz Siemienowicz were successfully used.
1620: In what is now Provincetown Harbor near Cape Cod, the Mayflower Compact is signed on the Mayflower, establishing the basic laws for the Plymouth Colony.
1606 - Turkey & Austria sign Treaty of Zsitva-Torok
1493 - Columbus discovers Saba
1215: The Fourth Lateran Council meets, adopting the doctrine of transubstantiation, meaning that bread and wine are transformed into the body and blood of Christ.
And, finally, some historical figures who were born or died on Nov 11th:
Yasser Arafat, Palestinian leader (b: August 24, 1929 ; d: November 11, 2004) Lucretia Mott, American women's rights activist and abolitionist (b: January 3, 1793 ; d: November 11, 1880) Nat Turner, American leader of slave uprising (b: October 2, 1800 ; d: November 11, 1831) Daniel Ortega, President of Nicaragua (b: November 11, 1945) George Patton, American general (b: November 11, 1885) Franz Conrad von Hötzendorf, Austro-Hungarian field marshal (b: November 11, 1852 ; d: August 25, 1925) Abigail Adams, First Lady of the United States (b: November 11, 1744 ; d: October 28, 1818)
Post by Low Light Mike on Nov 7, 2009 20:37:07 GMT -8
During this time in November, I'm mindful of remembering wars and the sacrifices of soldiers and other citizens.
For our ferry-history, what are some ways that ferries (I'm mainly thinking of the names of ferries) have memorialized war-sacrifice?
Here are some things that come to my mind:
The CPR ferry Cy Peck (later a short-time BC Ferry) was named for a British Columbian Victoria Cross winner.
The names of some of Newfoundland's provincial ferries honour some of the horrible battle grounds that the Newfoundland regiment saw action in, during the Great War. Such as Beaumont-Hamel and Gallipoli.
Post by Low Light Mike on Nov 6, 2010 8:33:02 GMT -8
Here's a photo of the memorial plaque at the "memorial athletic-field" at Port Townwsend.
- For those used to Canadian or UK cenotaphs, the war-dates on this plaque mights seem odd, but it makes sense once you think about it.
(note: I've had to crop the bottom 1/2 of the plaque, to make it fit).
- a few blocks away at the Port Townsend legion, there is a display-board outside for a local man who won the USA "Medal of Honor" at Vietnam. He was the only "SeeBee" to ever win this medal. Later, a US-Navy ship was named for him.
It's interesting that this thread popped up today. I had an interesting experience today, that I'm still thinking about.
As some of you know, I'm involved with Navy League Cadets as an officer. It is unpaid, teaching 9-12 year olds basic seamanship and other valuable life skills. I have fun with it, and it keeps me out of trouble. I have no affiliation with the RCN, other than that we follow a military structure, and wear a similar uniform.
Today we were out selling poppies for the Royal Canadian Legion. My colleagues and I had around 10 cadets out taking donations. It was cold, so I decided whip into Starbucks and grab some hot chocolates for the kids. I ordered the drinks for the kids as well as myself and my colleagues, and as I reached into my pocket for the money, the gentleman behind me hands the clerk 40 bucks and says "it's on me".
I've heard of things like this happening to my friends, who are in the Canadian Forces and are on active duty, but I've never had anything happen to me. At first I felt somewhat guilty accepting this, because I thought that perhaps he had done that because he thought I was in active service and wanted to show his thanks. But then I remembered that I had ordered 10 kids' hot chocolates, and there were kids scattered all over the shopping centre and are pretty hard to miss.
About an hour later, I went back in to get some more drinks, and the clerk wouldn't accept my money.
It was a new experience to me, and I thought I'd share my thoughts on it since we are so close to November 11th again.
That's a nice story, second post previous, Nick. thanks for relating that.
My avatar for the next few days is a photo of my maternal grandfather, Daniel Boone Kepler. He died in 1940, sixteen years before I was born. Not even my oldest sibling had a chance to get to know his grandfather. He was born in Ohio in 1875, and came to Canada about 1914. I don't know what the procedure would have been for becoming a Canadian citizen in those days, but after being here only two years, he was in the Canadian Expeditionary Force in Europe, in the 230th Forestry Battalion, which I suppose seemed appropriate with his background as a woodsman. Not everyone in the First World War endured the horrors of the trenches. Armies had to move, and trees had to be felled and lumber milled to facilitate the movement. He was discharged in the spring of 1919 and returned home to log, fish, and raise his two daughters, first in Campbell River, and then in Vancouver, where he died in 1940.
He's buried in Mt Pleasant Cemetery, in the military section, with many of his comrades. I went there for the first time this summer, and just sat by his grave and thought about the grandfather I never came close to knowing. I thought of all the men who's graves stretched out around me, who had given so much for their country in what had at that time been the most horrific war the world had ever known. I wondered what my grandfather must have thought just before he died in 1940, when he saw the same awful thing beginning again. I thanked him for what he had done and told him that although we'd never met, he would never be forgotten.
And we won't forget, not the ones who were lucky enough to come home, or those who weren't.
This past summer, I had the opportunity, during my European travels, to visit Vimy Ridge.
A place of powerful family history - my great grandfather (dad's side) was a "runner," delivering messages across the intense battlefield between HQ and the front lines. We were told that most runners had a lifespan of about 1-2 months - by some miracle, he survived the war. My grandfather (also dad's side), served time in the Canadian forces, and was a mechanic for planes in WWII in Germany.
Even for those without family history in the Canadian forces, Vimy is a very powerful place. I remember standing in the rain in dead silence with my dad, reading all those names on the monument, and that wild feeling of time coming to a stop. You stop and consider how this happened, the horrors they endured in the trenches, those who were able to come home and those who weren't as lucky.
This place changed the way I look at my country and the world.
Post by Low Light Mike on Nov 8, 2010 13:01:48 GMT -8
I'm impacted in lots of ways by the sacrifices of soldiers and other citizens during times of war.
As to my own family, I can think of 3 stories to tell:
1) My father was an 11 year old ethnic German living in a rural area of Poland, in September 1939. During the next few years as a tween & teen living in an occupied country (but luckily of the right kind of ethnicity), he was forced to join organizations such as "Hitler Youth", and was eventually conscripted into the Wehrmacht in early 1945 as a 17-year old boy. He ended up as a POW of the British at the end of the war. - he emigrated to Canada in 1949. Although he only spent 21 years of his life in Europe, those were "interesting" years. Not a normal life for today's teenager.
2) The rest of my father's family stayed on the farm during WWII, in German occupied Poland. When the Russians advanced, they became refugees. They only lost 1 family member (a teen girl died of malnutrition), and eventually came to Canada as refugees. - When my paternal grandmother was suffering from dementia in her elderly years (early 1990's here in Nanaimo), her confused mind would re-live some of the horror of that time. She was still afraid of the Russians who were coming.
3) My mom's cousin was in the Canadian army and was KIA in Normandy, in July 1944. I've found his name on a website for the Sherbrooke Fusiliers, and found his date and city of death. I think it was Caen, and when I read my history it shows that this is exactly where the Canadians were fighting during the time 1-month after D-Day.
My family never had a huge connection with the army, except for the fact that since we came from Norway, the men of the family had to take part in mandatory military service. Not sure if they still did that. My Great-Grandfather guarded the palace of the Norwegian King and Queen during peacetime between the first and second world wars, but that's pretty much it.
For me, I sang in my school's senior choir's performance of 'In Flanders Fields' at the Remembrance day ceremony at my school yesterday. This Youtube is from the concert that we also performed the song at earlier this Fall. For the actual ceremony, the room was dark and we all held candles.
Post by Northern Exploration on Nov 12, 2010 7:12:54 GMT -8
None of my immediate family have been in the military. My paternal grandfather was refused for medical reasons so played in an airforce band for the duration of WWII. His brothers and sisters all served in some capacity or another. My maternal Uncle who lives on the Island served in the Navy. My brother almost went the military route to get his pilots license and qualification but instead took the civilian track.
My plan was to go to a warehouse sale early in the morning and then make it downtown for the ceremony at Queen's Park and the Legislature. How dumb of me . Traffic was light but the line-ups to get into the mayhem wasn't. The crowd was 90% women who were foaming at the mouth and had that wild sale panic look in their eyes. So nevertheless I didn't escape in time. I only had one serious bruise on an ankle from being bashed by a cart and the other pushings and bumpings didn't leave a mark. I was very happy though when they announced numerous times though that 11:00 would be observed with a strict 2 minutes silence. So one moment the women were fighting over Royal Doulton figurines and other chachkis, the next it was totally silent and reverant. After two minutes all returned to the normal of pushing and stealing from another's persons cart.
I do think recent communication efforts and current military involvements are having an effect on the relevancy of Rememberance Day high. For young people, seeing other people only a few years older lose their lives, has brought a new focus on and respect for, the sacrifices made by previous generations.
Queen of Prince Rupert at Bear Cove - Thankyou for your years of service
Post by Coastal Skier on Nov 12, 2010 16:35:17 GMT -8
My Grandfather served with the Canadian Forces in WWII.
He was both a radio operator and fought on the front lines. He was involved in the liberation of Normandy in 1944.
My Grandfather doesn't really talk about his time in the war. The one thing he has mentioned, is that he managed to obtain a German forces log book after he and his unit took over a German fortress. He used this a journal.
experience does for the soul what education does for the mind. British Columbia->New Zealand->Japan #jordanskisandexplores Flickr | Instagram ------------------------------------------------------------
To start off this year's Remembrance Day postings on a slightly lighter note... this drawing of my grandfather, Daniel Boone Kepler, that a colleague did while they were serving somewhere in Europe in the First World War. There are two names on the drawing that I have looked up every which way I could think of, to no avail.