Who are our vet­er­ans?

North Bay Nugget - - OPINION - By Nancy adams

I have been go­ing to re­mem­brance day pa­rades and cer­e­monies for more than 60 years.

as a young girl, I re­mem­ber watch­ing mostly vet­er­ans of the Sec­ond World War and some from the Korean War, march­ing proudly in for­ma­tion. I re­mem­ber the solem­nity of the lay­ing of the wreaths. and, I re­mem­ber how the soul-wrench­ing cry of the bu­gle play­ing the last post could ren­der me to tears. even then, I re­mem­ber vet­er­ans as be­ing old men. the re­al­ity is that vet­er­ans are not only old men, but mid­dle-aged and young men and women, who have self­lessly served our coun­try in con­flicts around the world as well as com­ing to the as­sis­tance of their fel­low cit­i­zens in re­cent crises like, floods and fires.

Fast for­ward to this cen­tury and I find my­self as a proud 10-year mem­ber of the royal Cana­dian Le­gion. Last month, at our monthly meet­ing, when dis­cus­sions were go­ing on about this year’s up­com­ing re­mem­brance day pa­rade and cer­e­mony, I looked around the room at our branch’s vet­er­ans who were in at­ten­dance. What di­ver­sity of age and ex­pe­ri­ence.

We are very lucky to have as one of our own a Sec­ond World War vet­eran who par­tic­i­pated in the Ital­ian cam­paign. at­tend­ing ev­ery monthly meet­ing, ray hachey, a spry 90+, was one of 93,000 Cana­di­ans who fought in the dust and heat of the sum­mer, the snow and cold of the win­ter and the rain and mud of the spring and fall over a 20-month pe­riod dur­ing one of the tough­est cam­paigns of the Sec­ond World War, the bat­tle of or­tona. the Cana­dian troops pushed from the south to the north of Italy fac­ing some of the ger­man army’s best troops. thank you for your ser­vice, ray.

Sit­ting across from ray hachey were Steve Wrathall, trevor Ship­pam and romeo Sar­razin. who was a peace­keeper. We of­ten don’t think of our peace­keep­ers as vet­er­ans but, they most cer­tainly are. Canada’s role in peace­keep­ing around the world led to the es­tab­lish­ment of our coun­try as a prom­i­nent world power.

Since 1947, Canada has par­tic­i­pated in 37 peace­keep­ing mis­sions, in­clud­ing the Congo (1960-64), Le­banon (1978), So­ma­lia (1992), haiti (1993-96), rwanda (1993-96), bos­nia and herze­gov­ina (1995-2000), Sierre Leone (1999-2005), and Su­dan (2005-2009).

Some mis­sions are cur­rently tak­ing place, some on­go­ing for a long time, in­clud­ing Cyprus (since 1964), Is­rael/syria (since 1974), Si­nai/ egypt (since 1981), the Congo (since 1999), dar­fur (since 2009) and mali. ap­prox­i­mately 130 Cana­di­ans have died in th­ese ef­forts and many more have suf­fered phys­i­cal and men­tal in­jury. ev­ery mem­ber of our Cana­dian Forces who has served on a peace­keep­ing mis­sion is a vet­eran. thanks for your ser­vice, romeo.

Steve re­tired af­ter a 35-year ca­reer with the royal Cana­dian en­gi­neers. Some of his tours, where he served, in­cluded Croa­tia, bos­nia, rwanda, Kosovo and afghanistan. his cre­den­tials in­clude ex­plo­sive ord­nance dis­posal, and chem­i­cal and bi­o­log­i­cal am­mu­ni­tion bomb dis­posal. Steve is a young man yet he is a vet­eran. thank you for your ser­vice, Steve.

trevor is cur­rently serv­ing our coun­try. he is posted to CFB North bay, an air force base sub­or­di­nate to 1Cana­dian air divi­sion, Win­nipeg, man., and the cen­tre for North amer­i­can aero­space de­fence Com­mand (No­rad). 22 Wing/cfb North bay is the most im­por­tant mil­i­tary base in Canada with re­spect to the con­ti­nen­tal air de­fence of North amer­ica. thank you for your con­tin­u­ing ser­vice, trevor.

this year on re­mem­brance day, let’s hon­our all vet­er­ans, the el­derly, the mid­dle-aged and the young, men and women who have served or are cur­rently serv­ing in the Cana­dian Forces, by land, by air or by sea. Let’s re­mem­ber the men and women who made the ul­ti­mate sac­ri­fice in the First World War (66,944), the Sec­ond World War (45,300), the Korean War (516), the So­ma­lia Civil War (1), the bos­nian War (20), and the afghanistan War (158).

Let’s hon­our the sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of vet­er­ans who re­turned home with ei­ther phys­i­cal or men­tal in­juries. and, let’s re­mem­ber the al­most 1,500 young men who since 1976 re­turned home with so much men­tal tor­ment that they ended their own lives. thank you for your ser­vice. Lest we for­get.

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