Who are our veterans?
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.