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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tribute to Canadian Soldiers all volunteers.... unique in this world

Sunday Telegraph Article 

(2006 article but still valid)
From today's UK wires: Salute to a brave and modest nation
Kevin Myers, The Sunday Telegraph

LONDON - Until the deaths last week of four Canadian soldiers accidentally killed by a U.S. warplane in Afghanistan, probably almost no one outside their home country had been aware that Canadian troops were deployed in the region.

And as always, Canada will now bury its dead, just as the rest of the world as always will forget its sacrifice, just as it always forgets nearly everything Canada ever does. It seems that Canada's historic mission is to come to the selfless aid both of its friends and of complete strangers, and then, once the crisis is over, to be well and truly ignored. 

Canada is the perpetual wallflower that stands on the edge of the hall, waiting for someone to come and ask her for a dance. A fire breaks out, she risks life and limb to rescue her fellow dance-goers, and suffers serious injuries. But when the hall is repaired and the dancing resumes, there is Canada, the wallflower still, while those she once helped glamorously cavort across the floor, blithely neglecting her yet again. 

That is the price Canada pays for sharing the North American continent with the United States, and for being a selfless friend of Britain in two global conflicts. For much of the 20th century, Canada was torn in two different directions: It seemed to be a part of the old world, yet had an address in the new one, and that divided identity ensured that it never fully got the gratitude it deserved. 

Yet its purely voluntary contribution to the cause of freedom in two world wars was perhaps the greatest of any democracy. Almost 10% of Canada's entire population of seven million people served in the armed forces during the First World War, and nearly 60,000 died. The great Allied victories of 1918 were spearheaded by Canadian troops, perhaps the most capable soldiers in the entire British order of battle. 

Canada was repaid for its enormous sacrifice by downright neglect, its unique contribution to victory being absorbed into the popular memory as somehow or other the work of the "British." The Second World War provided a re-run. The Canadian navy began the war with a half dozen vessels, and ended up policing nearly half of the Atlantic against U-boat attack. More than 120 Canadian warships participated in the Normandy landings, during which 15,000 Canadian soldiers went ashore on D-Day alone. Canada finished the war with the third-largest navy and the fourth-largest air force in the world. 

The world thanked Canada with the same sublime indifference as it had the previous time. Canadian participation in the war was acknowledged in film only if it was necessary to give an American actor a part in a campaign in which the United States had clearly not participated - a touching scrupulousness which, of course, Hollywood has since abandoned, as it has any notion of a separate Canadian identity. 

So it is a general rule that actors and filmmakers arriving in Hollywood keep their nationality - unless, that is, they are Canadian. Thus Mary Pickford, Walter Huston, Donald Sutherland, Michael J. Fox, William Shatner, Norman Jewison, David Cronenberg, Alex Trebek, Art Linkletter and Dan Aykroyd have in the popular perception become American, and Christopher Plummer, British. It is as if, in the very act of becoming famous, a Canadian ceases to be Canadian, unless she is Margaret Atwood, who is as unshakably Canadian as a moose, or Celine Dion, for whom Canada has proved quite unable to find any takers. 

Moreover, Canada is every bit as querulously alert to the achievements of its sons and daughters as the rest of the world is completely unaware of them. The Canadians proudly say of themselves - and are unheard by anyone else - that 1% of the world's population has provided 10% of the world's peacekeeping forces. Canadian soldiers in the past half century have been the greatest peacekeepers on Earth - in 39 missions on UN mandates, and six on non-UN peacekeeping duties, from Vietnam to East Timor, from Sinai to Bosnia. 

Yet the only foreign engagement that has entered the popular on-Canadian imagination was the sorry affair in Somalia, in which out-of-control paratroopers murdered two Somali infiltrators. Their regiment was then disbanded in disgrace - a uniquely Canadian act of self-abasement for which, naturally, the Canadians received no international credit. 

So who today in the United States knows about the stoic and selfless friendship its northern neighbour has given it in Afghanistan? Rather like Cyrano de Bergerac, Canada repeatedly does honourable things for honourable motives, but instead of being thanked for it, it remains something of a figure of fun.

It is the Canadian way, for which Canadians should be proud, yet such honour comes at a high cost. This week, four more grieving Canadian families knew that cost all too tragically well.

"Cpl. Martin, a soldier with the Royal 22e Regiment Battle Group, died Saturday after a roadside bomb exploded in the dangerous Panjwaii district west of Kandahar City.  He had been in Afghanistan about three weeks on his second tour of duty and was just two days shy of his 25th birthday when he died.   A native of the Quebec village of St. Cyrille de Wendover, near Drummondville, Cpl. Martin was a member of the Van Doo’s 3rd Battalion, and had previously worked with the Canadian Forces during aid efforts in Haiti. He was serving with the 1st Battalion at the time of his death, becoming the 154th Canadian soldier to be killed in Afghanistan.
We will never forget Cpl. Martin’s bravery and his sacrifice to make life better for others,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a statement Sunday."
Kenyon Wallace  December 21, 2010 National Post
Corporal Steve Martin was killed Saturday after an improvised explosive device detonated while he was on patrol in the Panjwai district of Kandahar Province.
Cpl Steve Martin the 154th Canadian to bleed on the Afghan plains, not as an invader but as someone who truly believed in the cause.  Cpl. Martin’s death brought the death toll to 700 among foreign soldiers in the NATO-led security mission to Afghanistan. 

The Canadian wars....War of 1812 (American Invasion 1),
Finean Raids (American Invasion 2), Riel Rebellion,  Boer War, World War 1, World War 2, Korea, Peacekeeping, defence of Germany and the war in Afghanistan......all done with volunteers.

 That's is the true Canadian tradition.
For no Canadians soldier ever goes to war because the government of Canada has drafted them, at times the calls for the militia were heard, conscription allowed Canadians to serve and only few ever made it overseas.  conscription reared its ugly head and the all volunteer forces was too lose some of its shine.  The Quebec people, even with such glorious regiments fighting in the land of their mother tougne against Nazi tyranny, fought in the streets to put on the Canadian uniform and do as the rest of the world was doing and attempting to crush Germany and her allies.  

In WW1 the Military Service Act. The act caused 404,385 men to be liable for military service, from which 385,510 sought exemption, but it was vague and offered many exemptions, and almost all of these men were able to avoid service, even if they had supported conscription, only about 125,000 men were ever conscripted, and only 25,000 of these were sent to the front.

Canadian Volunteer  Service Medal
Instituted on October 22, 1943 for service of at least 18 months between
September 3rd 1939 and March 1st 1947.
The ribbon can bear up to three bars.
1) The Overseas Service Bar for 60 days of service overseas.
2) The Dieppe Bar for participation in the Raid on Dieppe on August 19th 1942.
3) The Hong Kong bar for participating in the defence of Hong Kong between December 8th and December 25th 1941.
In WW2 only  2463 conscripted men reached units on the front lines. Out of these, 79 lost their lives.  Canadian writer Farley Mowat recalls in his volumes of war memoirs savagely disliking those who wore the uniform but refused to make the same sacrifices he and his brothers-in-arms were called on to make in Italy and North-West Europe.  The term 'Zombies' were used for those who wore the uniform but did not suffer the same threats.
Canadian Volunteer Service Medal for Korea
Volunteer Service Medal  for Korea
Potential Volunteer Service Medal (modern service)

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