Army, its his­tory worth a closer look

The Compass - - OR­THTE - Brig.-gen. Christo­pher C. Thur­rott is com­man­der, Land Force At­lantic Area.

Canada is not an in­ac­ces­si­ble is­land in the world. Like it or not, that world af­fects us — it draws us in. Some­times peace­ably, some­times not — but in both cases, our cit­i­zens are af­fected by global events. Some are drawn closer than oth­ers, but all are im­pacted, and try as we might, we can­not ig­nore as­pects of our his­tory that we do not like or em­brace.

In­deed, as a coun­try of ed­u­cated peo­ple, the rel­a­tive worth of our cit­i­zen­ship and polity is greatly en­hanced when we in­form our­selves on our past and come to our own con­clu­sions. Armed with knowl­edge, our de­bates are given mean­ing and heft. This makes us stronger across the board.

As the com­man­der of Land Force At­lantic Area, I am keenly aware that your sol­diers are con­stantly buf­feted by the ebb and flow of our past. At­lantic Canada, more than any other part of the coun­try, has been part of Canada’s wars. Hal­i­fax has been the sea gate to our par­tic­i­pa­tion in the Boer War, the World Wars, and even Korea. I am also aware that the army, or the Cana­dian Forces writ large, is not some­thing that very many peo­ple dwell upon.

We will show up

This is not an ad­mo­ni­tion, for the mil­i­tary does not rep­re­sent the cit­i­zens of this coun­try con­di­tion­ally, nor does it de­mand at­ten­tion or adu­la­tion.

I would sug­gest that the Cana­dian army and its his­tory are worth a closer look for we have had many, many con­tribut­ing cit­i­zens in our ranks and many walk amongst you to­day. The Cana­dian army’s his­tory is also your his­tory.

It may not seem press­ing or star­tling.

It may lack the drama of to­day’s re­al­ity shows and it may not af­fect your pay­cheque or your so­cial life, but it re­mains a re­flec­tion of Canada’s id, its psy­cho­log­i­cal roots, and re­flects the val­ues of Cana­dian so­ci­ety as we evolve as a proud, in­de­pen­dent na­tion with a just so­ci­ety.

Churchill re­marked that, “his­tory will be kind to me, for I in­tend to write it.”

I have no such in­ten­tion and it would be in­tel­lec­tu­ally dis­hon­est for me to sug­gest that there is not much that is ter­ri­ble and hor­rific in our mil­i­tary his­tory — what else can one ex­pect from war­fare, af­ter all?

I would sug­gest, how­ever, that our army has had a prom­i­nent role in our coun­try’s short his­tory and that is some­thing worth know­ing, for the past is pro­logue and I would hope that ex­am­i­na­tion and, at ap­pro­pri­ate times com­mem­o­ra­tion, of our mil­i­tary past would demon­strate to all one im­por­tant les­son: that your army will al­ways show up for what­ever task you need it for, wher­ever you need it done.

At home or abroad, we are your fel­low cit­i­zens and we are your sol­diers.

In­deed, we are

also your sons and daugh­ters both; your sis­ters and your broth­ers. That is the best and most im­por­tant les­son of our his­tory.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.