Army, its history worth a closer look
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.