Carrying on from last week's blog, I mentioned that in the early hours of November 11th I would again this year be attending a brief ceremony for WWI Victoria Cross recipient Rowland Bourke.
Reserve Naval Commander Bourke was awarded his VC and also the DSO for saving about 40 lives of sailors in the waters off Belgium in failed attempts to scuttle two vessels at different harbours. Facilities inside those harbours housed German Submarines that got repairs and supplies, and from which they operated during the Battle of the Atlantic. Much has been written about these events in earlier blogs in this space.
En-route to the Bourke grave ceremony I passed by these very large trees that are almost 100 years old. Noted in past blogs, some 900 were supposed to be planted in honour of fallen Victoria area soldiers from the Great War. But only a few hundred were planted and a recent move saw activity that will soon result in more being planted.
From the picture above you can see the majestic trees that actual canopy across the road in some places during the summer. Past blogs also brought you the story that the street was to become known as Memorial Avenue but over the years that got forgotten by the officials of the day.
Recent blogs have also told of the new life to the street with the addition of some 30 road signs and interpretive displays explaining the significance of the trees and signs.
The above plaque tells us that back in 1926 the Municipality of Saanich and the Victoria Horticultural Society's Heritage Tree Committee mounted the plaque. It tells that in 1922 French General Joseph Joffie, Lord Byng and General, Sir Arthur Currie each planted one of these London Plane trees in this very area.
As I drove by en-route to the Bourke ceremony, I saw two young girls about high school age, placing something on the plaque. Someone also placed a wonderful wreath on the tree itself. Here's a better picture of the plaque taken later in the day.
For I believe 11 of the last 12 years I have attended the Bourke grave at the Royal Oak Burial Park in Saanich on Remembrance Day to pay my respects. At my request, members of the local reserve naval unit... HMCS Malahat, have unofficially adopted the grave of this fellow sailor and local hero... Rowland Bourke. They have now attended I believe the last 10 years. With their incredible help, that of CFB Esquimalt, the family, the Cemetery and many others, joint efforts resulted in the unveiling of this marvelous grave marker beside the original, hard to see, flat marker.
I am looking up at a low flying airplane, no doubt sent to watch over us... hehe.
This year there were about two dozen members of the Malahat team at the service. Each year the numbers grow slightly. I teased those in attendance that some day maybe the whole unit could attend the brief service.
The Commanding Officer gave a brief talk about the Bourke deeds, then placed wreaths, asked the family to make a few comments and then gave me the same opportunity. Then all had to race off to Sydney were, within the hour they had to join up with the rest of their unit in Remembrance ceremonies there.
Several Bourke family members and I stand off to the left in the image above.
I then had to race downtown to the location of the Afghanistan Memorial. After this was formally unveiled the committee creating it turned it over to the PPCLI for its upkeep. They in turn have decided to visit it each Remembrance Day and hold a brief service there before attending the major service at 11 am just a few blocks away.
I am shaking hands with Dougal Salmon, a former Captain in the PPCLI and a man with some 30 plus years in the Canadian Forces.
Dougal and I served together for many years in the 1960's with the Toronto Scottish Regiment. Both advancing from recruit to Sergeant before he headed off to join the CF and about then I was promoted to Warrant Officer but soon work had me moving to Halifax. There I joined a second reserve unit for several years and then relocating to BC, and joined a 3rd unit where I was promoted to Master Warrant Officer. Five years later I retired from the military.
Dougal is now retired but serves as the President of the local Branch of the PPCLI Association, and thus his appearance at the Afghanistan Memorial on the 11th.
Dougal gave a brief talk about his unit's involvement in the War Against Drugs and the terrible cost paid not only by those who gave their all, and their families and friends, but also those who came home with other wounds, some noticeable and some not.
There were about 50 people attending, some serving, others were veterans, families and friends and members of the public. The Last Post was played, wreaths laid and some even placed their poppies on the monument.
As I have mentioned several times in this space, this is a very important tribute to those who lost their lives, those who came home with visible and other wounds, and their extended families. Each one of us owes them the duty of stopping by this monument and paying our own respects, any time day or night. Yes it is lit at night and does not have any barriers that would prevent you visiting it after normal hours.
And as a special thanks to Captain Dougal Salmon, here is the cap badge that we both honour to this day with the work we both continue to do.
In closing, I would like to share with you a letter that appeared on the net just a few days ago. It has been sent to me by one of my best friends and supporter of this blog and all it stands for. Here it is...
What more need I say!
See you next Sunday,
For the past 7 years in this space I have brought you news about Remembrance Day activities in the greater Victoria BC area.
Sadly far too many in the earlier days, like today, will see yet another long weekend to enjoy. Little thought will go into the very meaning of the sacrifices that ought to be in their minds on this, and a handful of other days in the year.
Today's title says it all!
US Army Staff Sergeant Christiana Ball a soldier and an entertainer, was part of an entertainment special at the White House a few years back and sang this song for President Obama and others.
It indeed does tell it all and while I have provided a link to the song in the past, I feel it appropriate to again bring it to you.
Please turn on your speakers and go to this link, and return after you hear it. You might want to listen to it several times and pay close attention to her message.
Here is the link... www.youtube.com/watch?v=4dBPAmP1Sa4
Closer to home, back again at Victoria, several blogs have brought you news of the Afghanistan memorial. Christiana's words are crystal clear when you look at the local memorial and over 160 names of Canadians who gave their all during our 12 year mission.
Well over 1000 in the serving military, Afghanistan and other war veterans, cadets, many dignitaries including very high ranking military officers, politicians, the Lt Governor of BC and even the Afghanistan Ambassador to Canada were joined by family members of some of the lost warriors in attendance.
At the September 2017 unveiling the public were invited to place their own poppies on both sides of the memorial, one being in English the other in French. The names of the fallen, including 5 women, are listen alphabetically and travel around both sides of the base.
In the lower image in the first line, though unreadable in this image, is the name of 21 yr. old Karine Blais from Quebec. She was only in Kandahar 2 weeks when killed by a roadside bomb. A few lines down contains the name of 23 year old medic Andrew Eykelenboom from the Comox area of Vancouver Island. The medic was serving with a convoy on the move when attacked by a suicide bomber who's truck crashed into the convoy. His was the first Can adian death of a Medic in action since the war in Korea.
Today there will be 2 separate groups visiting the memorial in the downtown area of Victoria, just a few blocks away from the Legislative Buildings and main Remembrance ceremonies at 11 a.m.
And speaking of Remembrance, regular readers of these blogs will recall the several stories in this space a year ago about the Municipality of Saanich (which borders of the City of Victoria.) Last year it unveiled about 30 memorial signs along Shelbourne Street. This major North South corridor was designated after WW1 as the first ever Street of Remembrance in Canada and plans called for the planting of one London Plane tree for every soldier killed in that war.
But after several hundred trees were planted things came to an end. Over the years many of them died and still more were later removed for street widening. The Memorial Avenue anticipated came to one far short of what was called for.
Plans of late are attempting to deal with replacing trees. But in the mean time the 30 Memorial Avenue signs have been mounted along the street with still more to come.
Over the last few weeks there has been an addition with the inclusion of about 16 more signs now on the south end of Shelbourne Street, which is in the city of Victoria.
Above we see the former mayor of Saanich, the then and current area MLA and a representative of the native community unveiling one of the new memorial signs along the north end of Shelbourne.
A few days ago, on November 8th a brief ceremony for the unveiling of 16 more memorial signs was held by the city of Victoria. Here we see Patty Stockten, 1st Vice President of the Trafalgar Pro Pat Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion, Victoria acting Mayor Marianne Alto and BC/Yukon Chair of the Victoria Remembrance Day Poppy Fund standing below the first memorial sign mounted in Victoria, at the south end of Shelbourne Street near Pembroke.
While the event marked the 100th anniversary of the first Armistice, I was disappointed to see that only about 4 dozen officials and members of the public attended. Not sure why, by the occasion should have been much better attended.
The small park where this took place had a number of white birch trees. I am fond of these as I grew up on family property that had several of these. And those gathered got quite a hoot when discovering a guest hiding in one one of these.
Perhaps he/she was also unimpressed with the size of the audience!
This morning, as per the last dozen or more years, I will be attending a brief ceremony at the grave site of WW1 Victoria Cross recipient Rowland Bourke here in Victoria. Here is the marker I helped others to have erected several years ago in honor of this Canadian hero.
I shall end with a poem, which I believe I brought to you also last year. It tells the plight of the veterans so well and deserves to yet again be brought forth.
And finally this image says it all...
Please share this blog with like minded folks.
I'll be back on Sunday,
You have hopefully read about Canadian born Douglas Munro who's heroism saved some 500 marines and sailors at Guadalcanal during WW II.
Of some 120 Canadian men and others with Cdn. connections awarded the Medal of Honor, Douglas' story is one on my favorites. His story and updates have appeared often in this space.
But, like over 100 books on the Medal of Honor in my personal library, it too is written by a male. Though no criticism of the book is implied.
It came into my possession a week ago as a gift for a close friend from Victoria who is an avid follower of these blogs. During her recent trip to visit family in the state of Massachusetts, she dragged them into many a book story to find this book for me. It is destined to become one of my prized autographed books.
But that said, the time has long since past, that the preservation of the status quo is mandatory. Heroes are in fact not gender-specific. The day that the men start to wake up and realize this will be the day when they will hopefully pick up their quills and start telling our grade school children and more that the stories of thousands of female heroes are still waiting their fair treatment in the history of print.
This blog, now within a few numbers of 500 strong, has been telling you stories about female heroes dating back to the 2nd month of the blog's publishing on the net over 7 years ago.
Regular readers have read of Doctor Mary Walker the only female recipient of the medal, or so I thought, till telling the story of Juliet Ann Ope Walker back in January of 2013. It is searchable on this website.
Regular readers have also been told and retold stories about the famous Person's Case, the Persons' Awards and Women's History Month in Canada and the US. Stories have appeared here about the bravery of three Canadian women who earned the first ever US Purple Heart, the first ever Army Distinguished Service Medal and the first ever Navy Cross in US history.
Speaking of women history and Mary Walker, it was just recently learned that the very day she she was awarded the Medal of Honor, after being approved just before the
Lincoln assassination was on October 18th. A most historic date in Canadian women's history.
Yet another story in this space told you about the first ever government funded monument to Mary Elizabeth Crowley, just 12 years old, back in 1870 at Pugwash Nova Scotia. Others told of 14 year old Madeleine Jarret back in 1692 and of course of Laura Secord's warning that the
Americans were coming back in 1813. All are searchable on this site.
Jumping forward to most recent blogs, I highlighted an important feature of the recently unveiled Afghanistan memorial here in Victoria BC. But I fear that the five names mentioned, all Canadian women, will be missed by most who view this very sad but beautiful memorial.
We need to take gigantic steps to see that across the country we take steps to see more and more monuments, buildings, roads, geographic features and more named in honour of our women heroes.
It is their time. In fact it had been all all along, and each of us has allowed it to continue.
I shall return in not 2 weeks... but one to share with you some news I also just received from my friend's US trip about recent efforts to acknowledge female heroes... and folks... it is impressive.
Please join me then.
Today's blog picks up from where I left off last week.
That blog brought forth, yet again for this site, the wonderful story about the creation and unveiling of the Victoria BC Afghanistan Memorial. A memorial reminding all that in the service of our country 158 service members and five civilians gave their lives for the cause.
Therein the blog gave brief details of the tragic death of one of the 158 in the military. 30 year old Lt Nuttall was killed while leading his platoon on patrol. He stepped on an improvised explosive device, just a few days before Christmas 2009.
I also briefly mentioned that 30 year old Michelle Lang, was one of the civilians who lost her life. This award winning journalist was a Calgary Herald reporter on a six week assignment in the War Against Terrorism. Her death on 30 December 2009 was just about a week after her last published story.
A story about the death of Lt Nuttall!
Reporter Lang was the first and only reporter from Canada who was killed while covering the war by sending home regular reports about the Afghanistan conflict. At least 27 reporters have so far lost their lives in sending home to their own countries, the daily tragedy of war.
It is ironic that the last and this blog appear during the first week of this year's Women's History Month. This year marks the 27th year since The Honorable Mary Clancy, Minister responsible for the Status of Women first announced back in 1992 that each year from then on would be celebrated in Canada as Women's History Month. (A similar month in the US is celebrated during March)
Her March press release announced that it was high time the women of Canada were properly recognized for their significant accomplishments throughout Canada's history.
She forgot of course to announce in the same document that the credit belonged not to the government, but three British Columbia women who garnered support from across Canada for over a year and petitioned that such a month be created.
Those three women as duly noted often in this space were Cathryne Armstrong, Lyne Gough and Cathy Blazkow. Cathryne being my late mother. She had by then spent well over 50 years volunteering in many organizations at the local, regional, provincial, national and international levels to acknowledge the contributions to society that women played, and identifying areas were more research and energy is needed to better support the women and girls of the day. She and so many others proclaimed, as they quite rightly still do, that much remains to be done in that regard.
The month of October was chosen for this celebration as it was in that month back in 1929 that Lord Sankey, Lord Chancellor of Great Britain issues his decision on the status of women. The Famous Five... Canada's Emily Murphy, Nellie McClung, Louise McKinney, Irene Parlby and Henrietta Muir Edwards, had fought a several year battle regarding women's status as PERSONS, a title that was needed for them to be qualified to sit in our Senate. The men of the day, using very old law, determined that the women were NOT PERSONS, and thus the Person's Case above noted was to be decided (favourably for women) in England.
Returning to the BC memorial, last week I told you of one of the five woman who lost their lives in Afghanistan.
Perhaps these five could become known as the Five Patriotic Women. Each having their name inscribed for eternity on the BC memorial.
One in ten Canadian Afghanistan veterans is a woman. Three hundred and ten of these women served in combat roles. One of these women was Captain Nichola Goddard who was serving with the PPCLI as a Forward Observation Officer on 17 May 2006.
While in a standing position and exposed to enemy fire from the waste up, her armoured vehicle was on a mission to capture 15 alleged Taliban. It was struck by 2 rocket propelled grenades killing her and a Afghan National Army soldier. But her troops went on to kill about 40 and capture an additional 20 of the enemy.
The rock and roll group ... the TREWS were so inspired by the Goddard story that they apparently wrote and released this song...
Here is a photo of Captain Goddard, and below again we see the parents of Lt Andrew Nuttall, pointing to his name on the memorial. Look 2 lines up and to the left to see Nichola Goddard's name inscribed.
At the fabulous War Museum in Ottawa there is a small room called the Memorial Hall. Shown above, it's walls are depicting the rows upon rows of white graves of Canada's war dead. The room is designed with only one window and so positioned that on November 11 each year a ray of sunshine glows across the room and down onto the very marker of Canada's unknown war soldier.
In 2006 I was in Ottawa with my sisters and their husbands to buried the ashes of both my mother and father, both WWll veterans, at our national cemetery at Beechwood.
I visited this room the day after Capt Goddard was killed in action. Someone cut out the news clipping and placed it above the grave marker in this room. It was most emotional to go up to the marker and read the article.
Ironically Captain Goddard, now resting also at Beechwood, perhaps now chats with my parents off and on. Hmmm!
On 13 April 2009, 21 year old Trooper Karine Blais was killed and four others wounded when their armoured vehicle, on patrol duties, was struck by a roadside bomb. Karine was the youngest of the four Canadian women and one civilian to have been killed in the war.
It was her first tour and she had only been in the country 2 weeks!
Just over a week later 30 year old Major Michelle Mendis, died. Probably suffering from PTSD due to the pressures of the war room conferences, she took her own life. She'd been in Kandahar only 4 days.
A global news Stat in Jan. of this year claimed that with over 155 active Canadian service member suicides since 2010, the staggering number almost surpasses the 158 who died fighting.
In June of 2010 , 34 yr. Master Cpl. Kristal Giesebrecht a medic, and another of the same trade received notice that a suspected bomb was planted in a doorway along their route of patrol. En route to investigate, the two were killed when their vehicle struck an improvised explosive device near Kandahar.
In order, Trooper Blais, M Cpl Giesebrecht an Major Medes are pictured above.
The families of the 4 service women mentioned in these 2 blogs would have received the Sacrifice medal shown above at left, posthumously awarded, in honour of their late daughters. The parents or next of kin would have also received the Memorial (Silver) Cross shown at right as well.
In the case of Captain Goddard, the cross was awarded not to a parent, but to her husband. The first such award in the history of the medal.
We now must reflect on these terrible losses of life, and the after effects faced by The Five Patriotic Women, their mates in the service, their families and loved ones, neighbours and friends and the rest of the country. The same also goes true for each and every one of the men who's names are also inscribed on this memorial.
And lets not forget these fellows as well...
These are the folks that worked behind the scenes with many others to bring the country this wonderful memorial. Kudo's to each and every one of them and all those in the background that have brought us and future generations this most honourable tribute to the fallen, the serving in our yesterdays, today and tomorrow. Let the memorial also serve as a powerful reminder that peace is not free.
I URGE ALL TO TAKE A TRIP DOWNTOWN TO THE CORNERS OF QUADRA AND COURTNEY STREETS, in Victoria BC, AND SEE THIS MEMORIAL AND TAKE YOUR KIDS ALONG.
Also visit the most informative Memorial website at...
See you again on 27 October with 2 important updates
cheers till then,
Further clarification has yet to arrive on one aspect of this story. Thus I am putting tonight's promised blog on hold but will return with what I have on Sunday.
As many of you know, over the years my work in these blogs and elsewhere has been supported by great coverage in the media.
TV, radio and news- newspapers and many organizations have pre sented me with a podium to constantly tell of the vast Can-adian connection to the US military dating back to Civil War days and even earlier. Local archives and libraries, and of course the Victoria Genealogical Society, the CFB Esquimalt newspaper... the Lookout and the Black Press Media Group have been strong supporters on my work for years.
One of the key podiums has also been Bell Media's local all news and talk radio station, CFAX, one of the 3 largest stations in the greater Victoria area.
Over the years I have been interviewed on air by CFAX several times. Earlier this month I had the privilege of appearing on 3 consecutive Tuesdays for about 20 minutes with popular host Mark Brennae.
The first covered some of the Canadian MOH recipients and major sea battles. The second discussed a few land battles. The third dealt with recipients and others from Civil War days and later and their connections to Victoria BC.
In these broadcasts, mention was given to the first shots at Fort Sumter (12 April 1861), the battle between the Monitor and the Merrimack (8 Mar 1862), Gettysburg (1-3 July 1863), the Battle of Vicksburg the next day, and Wounded Knee (29 Dec.1890). The heroism of several Canadians involved in these deeds also received brief mention.
If you go to this URL...
you should see this image...
By clicking on the blue arrow, and turning on your speakers you will be able to hear this, the 2nd of the 3 short interviews. From my voice you can tell that I was having a problem condensing so much info and facing time constraints that seemed to expire VERY quickly. When I get the link to the other 2, I will post then in a future blog.
The Medal of Honor selected by the radio station, is an image of the current US Army Medal of Honor. (A Civil War MOH is pictured at upper left)
Here we see the current models of the Medal of Honor, with the air force at left, the navy, marines and coastguard in center and the army at the right.
The Army's has had major changes adopted and a new suspension ribbon, the same now appearing on all 3 types. The navy medal is almost exactly like those of Civil War days, less the fowling on the anchor shaft.
The air force's current medal was first introduced in 1967. But earlier medals to that branch were of the old army type. The first (old type) medal to the force was awarded to famed air ace Eddie Rickenbacker in 1918.
Moving along, about a month ago I and a friend where sitting at a snack bar within the local Costco store. I was wearing one of the T shirts I have that I got while attending the most formal commissioning of the US Coast Guard's latest warship... the powerful USCGC Munro at Seattle, and destined for service based out of California. It will presumably see the current Cutter Munro, based in Alaska, coming out of service in the years to come.
The new cutter, and the old and an earlier navy ship also carrying the name of Munro, are all vessels named after the Guadalcanal posthumous Medal of Honor recipient Douglas Munro, who lost his life while saving the lives of some 500 sailors and marines on Sept 27, 1942.
Douglas Munro was born in Vancouver BC, and remains to this day being the only serving coast guard member to be awarded the MOH. Another medal went to a fellow who was in the army... but many years earlier was also, most briefly, in the coast guard. His story can be read here by searching under his nickname... the snake.
But back to Cosco... sitting in the snack bar area I got talking to a man and woman from the US. He was wearing a cap with veterans' flashes on it and so, naturally we got to taking about Munro and soon developed a friendship. He was a retired US Colonel, and has a son who also served his country in the military. The Colonel and his wife became quite interested in learning of my work, and conversations led to several coffee meets over the next 3 weeks till he headed off again. In the last week, his son and wife joined up with parents for a Canadian visit.
In the 2nd last week of their visit I arranged a visit for the father to meet with volunteer historian Sherry Robinson. She is one of the keepers of the vast holdings of Esquimalt Township's archives and treasure trove of history dating back probably 200 years if not more.
In their last week in Victoria, I also took both men to an equally impressive visit to the Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt's own archives and also then we visited the Air Museum out at our international airport. Both fellows, who I will call Joe's, have pilot's licenses and were most eager to see the displays there.
While I do not know much about airplanes, the Joes seemed to have had a great time there!
But this caught my eye... and I don't mean because of the ferocious guard cat.
That's me in the sloppy pants and jacket. I didn't think they were so bad till I saw this picture. Time for some new wardrobe additions I guess. I have lost a third of my body weight over the past several years.
But it's what is behind that's significant. I believe this is one of the earliest Trans-Canada Airlines planes from Malton (Toronto) Ontario. Trans-Canada became Air Canada many years later.
The reason this excited me is because of a story my late father told me as a child. He said that his older brother... the late Jack Armstrong was a tailor in Toronto. And it was he that Trans-Canada hired to make the very first uniforms the nurses, hired as stewardess's, would wear.
If so, it was a thrill to see it, and thought how sad my late father could not have been with me that day... and so many others.
UPDATE... I have just learned that the first plane was an era plane but not one of the Trans-Canada planes. That company took its delivery and first flew a Lockeed Electra in 1934. In 1937 it took delivery of three planes that became known as...the three sisters. Their numbers became TCA, B and C.
Above obviously is C and the very plane, one of only 2 of its kind still flying, that was used in the cross Canada celebration for Air Canada's 80th year celebration in 2017. Air Canada of course being the company that Trans Canada morphed into.
Another Lockeed ELectra, similar to the one above but with more powerful engines, attempted a world wide flight back in 1937. You may remember the story.
It was flown by Amelia Earhart!
Moving along, I then took the 2 Joes back into the city downtown area to see the recently unveiled BC Afghanistan Memorial. Below we see father and son and the most impressive yet sad, reminder of one of the aspects of Canada's commitment to the War on Terror.
On September 1, 2001 the world was stunned to hear the horrific news of a three stage attack against the US that became the single worst terrorist attack in human history.
The first was of course was the 2 plane attack at the World Trade Center in Manhattan New York. This followed with the attack against the military at the Pentagon in Arlington County Virginia. The third being the plane crash resulting from passengers trying to take the plane over from high-jackers, and subsequently crashing into a field at Shanksville Pa.
Many have a most interesting view that the rushed investigation was suspect and that the "attackers" where not who officialdom declares as being the offenders. But that's another story for another day.
About 3,000 deaths occurred that day, including 24 Canadians. Some 6,000 more were injured. Recent stats say that about 10,000 since 9-11 have been detected having cancer. About 450 if not more firefighters and police officers were or are from withing the 10,000.
Here we see a better view of the inscription on the front and back of the memorial. One side is in English and the other in French.
Here we see the french side of the memorial, while still under construction. The right end notes that the memorial also recognizes all those who came home with mental or physical injuries.
Often forgotten in many memorials are the families, friends, loved ones, and neighbours. All who also pay a terrible price in their suffering of these losses to the community of those fighting and dying for it and country. Not so on this monument.
When the US declared the War on Terroism, Canada was one of the first allies to step up and send land, air and sea troops as well as civilian diplomatic and intelligence resources to Afghanistan in 2001.
It would see about 40,000 Canadians during tours spread over a 14 yr period in the longest war that Canada ever fought in. One hundred and sixty five would pay with their lives. Seven of these were civilians.
I would encourage you to turn on your speakers.... after finishing reading this blog... and going to...
and listen to US Army Sergeant Christiana Ball singing the very emotional song... All Gave Some, and Some Gave all.
Looking closely at the image above you can see sand around the base of the memorial. When lowered into place it landed on several boards almost the size of railway ties. Then sand bags were placed around the edges, the memorial raised slightly, the boards pulled out and then lowered onto the bags and then they pulled out the lowering straps.
Then the very talented workers slowly pin holed the bags and using a compressor slowly blew the escaping sand out from underneath. They constantly checked to ensure it was being lowered level and ultimately finding it's final resting place. A most interesting process to watch.
The memorial is located at the corners of Quadra and Courtney Streets, and behind the provincial courthouse and across from Christ Church Cathedral in Victoria.
This above image is of an Afghanistan child greeting a Canadian soldier... Cpl Michael McCauley as he patrolled through one of the streets of Panjwall Village in the province of Kandahar in July 2007. It is this image that is depicted on the memorial shown above.
Two years ago, almost to the day, on September 30th a very formal ceremony was held to unveil the new memorial. It was attended by several Generals, a former Minister of Veterans Affairs, politicians, the ambassador to Canada from Afghanistan and even our own BC Lt Governor of the day, the Honorable Judith Guichon.
Several hundred soldiers, sailors and airmen and cadets participated as well as a very large contingent of veterans of the war. Special guests were family and friends of several of those who gave their all in the war. And of course the very group of dedicated soles who got together to do all of the massive tasks to bring this memorial to life.
Here we see the Honorable Lt. Governor stopping to chat with one of the many veterans of the war. His name is Hue Carter and he served on many missions into dangerous territories during his extended career in the Canadian Forc es Reserves, and regular forces. His last being in Afghanistan with the substantiated rank of a regular forces Major. I am proud to claim him as a person friend of probably close to 40 years. It started when he was a young Sergeant with the Canadian Scottish reserves, whilst I was a young Warrant Officer with the Toronto Scottish reserves. Note his many campaign medals.
After the formal speeches were made by all...including the very Cpl... depicted on the memorial... but now a Lt, all gathered were invited to place their poppies on the monument.
As you can see, I also placed my poppy in honor of those who have lost their lives so that we can have peaceful tomorrows.
Today being 1 October the first day of this year's Women's History Month, it is most fitting to bring you a brief story about Michelle Lang. Her name appears in the fifth line down in this image, on the French side of the memorial.
Michelle was born in Vancouver BC in 1975. For years she had been working as a journalist and in 2009 was working for the Calgary Herald when sent on a 6 week assignment to cover the war in Afghanistan.
On the 2nd last day of the year, and while attached to the International Security Assistance Force in Kandahar province, that she and four other Canadians were killed when their carrier struck a hidden roadside bomb.
She was just 34 years old and engaged to be married the following July. In giving her life for Canada and the world, she became Canada's first and only journalist to be killed in the war. The last story she sent home to be published was about another Canadian soldier to die. His name was Lieutenant Andrew Nuttall, formerly of Victoria BC.
This is Michelle all suited up, camera locked and loaded as they say, and on patrol.
This is Doctor Richard Nuttall and his wife Jane, a nurse. She points out the name of their son, Lt Andrew Nuttall, killed on 23 December 2009 in the town of Nakhoney which is within the troubling Panjwaii district.
Andrew was with an Afghan soldier also killed as well as an interpreter whom was badly injured, when all were struck by an improvised explosive device.
Note both are wearing the Memorial (Silver) Cross on left side of their chests.
The memorial Cross was originally created to honor the parents or immediate family senior members for their losses of a mate, son or daughter from battle field fighting with the enemy. Recently the rules have expanded somewhat on those awarded. On the reverse, the deceased member's name, rank and service number are engraved.
Tomorrow I shall return with the 2nd part of today's blog, and on Sunday I will be back with some interesting updates.
In the mean time, as you can imagine, I spend a lot of time putting together these blogs. If you like them please pass them on to your like minded friends. If not pass them along anyway. hehe
I enjoy getting feedback, so please offer same, tell me your likes and dislikes and where change is needed I shall try to accommodate you.
Again reach out to the females that you know and remind them, or yourselves, that this is the month that we must all honor the women in our lives. Enjoy and respect that it is Women's History Month again this year.
For the American readers you celebrate the month in March, but now you can also celebrate it in October. Just tell them that Bart said so. And if they say they have never heard of me... you will have a great chance to tell them about this site. hehe
see you tomorrow...
Today's blog is running longer than anticipated, and will not run till probably mid week at latest.
Sorry about the delay, but I hope you will like what's bubbling away at my desk.
In my almost daily visit to Google and all things touching on the Medal of Honor, the last few weeks have produced a disturbing story.
It involves the battle at Wounded Knee, or if you will... the Massacre at the same place.
Regardless of which side you are on, there is no doubt that over the decades of battling with the American Native population, both sides have at times performed less than honourably. But it is the issue of Medals of Honor that I address today's blog.
Twenty Medals were awarded to members of the 7th US Cavalry for this incident in December of 1890. Hundreds of natives were killed, many being women and children with many being shot in the back.
Over the years there have been many demands that all 20 of these medals should be rescinded. The last few weeks have seen several Democrats give notice that if elected President they will see to it that the medals are revoked.
Several comments of late tend to suggest that the move is more one of gaining native votes, rather than righting any wrongs.
THE MEDAL OF HONOR IS NOT A GOOD CONDUCT MEDAL.
One might want to ask each of these democrats were they stood on this issue over the past few years before their Presidential runs began. What evidence is there that they gave a hoot about the matter before recent days or months.
But that aside, they and their parties have been quite vocal about the constitution when the opposite party violates same, on a regular basis.
Yet then their promised actions, if elected, will also violate the constitution.
This blog is almost seven years and 500 blogs long. Within the first 2 months of its existence I starting bringing you stories about the 27th Maine and a few dozen others, the Purge of 1916-7 and how the entire purge of over 900 medals were revoked... ILLEGALLY.
That subject has been commented on dozens of times in this space and remains unchallenged by anyone of authority.
Bureaucrats, rather than Congress decided some of the aspects of the Purge. Soldiers who wore their MOH's for over 50 years had them taken away. Families were robbed of their heritage, and many suffer to this very day.
The Constitution guaranteed these men and one woman the right to proper notice, the appearance in a court of law, the ability to give evidence and be heard by their peers before any such action could have been legally taken. None of this was done. There is much more to that story but I will not repeat it since numerous blogs have already brought you this story.
That being said, the wannabee Presidents all... have said nothing whatsoever that I can find in the press about the Constitution and the Rule of Law with regards to these 20 medals, 2 of which touch on Canada.
If you know any politicians in the US, please send them the link to this blog.
Before any medal is revoked they ought to do their homework first. And part of that homework is to have someone officially appointed to represent the medal holders and their descendants as well as those from the native side for any hearings, BEFORE MAKING ANY DECISIONS ON REVOKING MEDALS. Decisions that should be made by the courts, not politicians. Nor public opinion.
On another matter, there were quite a few stories about the Purple Heart last month, which was great.
Trouble is of about 20 I saw, all but one says that the first Purple Heart went to General MacArthur. True if you think only of the date of the medal being presented. But, as regular readers known the first medal went to PEI Canada born Beatrice Mary MacDonald who's deed predated MacArthur's.
Too bad all the stories could not have shared that with you!
See you in 2 weeks,
Once upon a time, many a year ago there lived a fellow who's words of wisdom were noted and preserved in print. Over the years many have turned to these words for guidance. But sadly as many and more have looked the other way.
One of his memorial lines was that... "It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation... and only one bad one to lose it."
His name was Ben and the University of Pennsylvania gave us a monument to remember Ben. Here he is on his bench...
Mr Ben ... Franklin sits at peace with his local broadsheet newspaper and reading the news of the day. Later he probably uses the secret bracelet he is wearing to send out tweets to friends and foes alike.
I hope that with the exorbitant internet rates I pay, these blogs are being beamed up to Ben and he approves of the good deeds and shutters at the bad this blog gets bogged down with each few weeks.
And on that end I move on to the US Commander in Chief, a title I am told that applies ONLY to his duties with the armed forces.
Regular visitors to this site have read many a story here about the Medal of Honor and the Purple Heart. Many hours each week are spent by me searching out these topics and others to bring to you in my blogs.
Thus the Purple Heart story of August 2016 peaked my interest. It of course involved President Trump, American's Commander in Chief of the military.
I believe it was at a West Virginia Rally, when a soldier reached out to the President and gave him the soldier's Purple Heart. He then exclaimed how much faith he had in his commander and the work being done on behalf of the nation... and the world.
In a later speech President Trump noted that he had always wanted one, and by being handed one by the soldier that was ..."much easier" to get. When considering the horrendous situations most recipients have gone through, that resulted in later receiving this medal, the comment was flippant. It was also downgrading to those, many of whom lost their lives, and were subsequently awarded the medal.
Making matters worse, the President then made the statement that ..."soldiers go to war to get the Purple Heart.' Most serving members of the military family, current and past, will tell you that getting a medal is the last thing on their minds when they... "go to war."
Let's now move the calendar along to the 4th of July of this year. The scene is the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. America's Commander in Chief of the military is giving a pep talk to the nation.
In his "Salute to America" he began with comments about the Revolutionary War and how the army took over the ramparts, and I believe also said they captured airports, but certainly said the army "manned the air."
Hmmm... Airports and manning the air.. seems to me the Wright Brothers first flew in December of 1903... not during the Revolutionary War of 1775-1783.
And speaking of the Revolutionary War the President added that the Rockets Red Glare, from the Star Spangled Banner refer to Fort Mchenry in the Revolutionary War. Trouble is that the fort and wording came from actions during the War of 1812.
And then there is the story about how Trump told the world that President Andrew Jackson could have prevented the US Civil War of 1861-5. Even though he had died 16 years before it started.
Here is an image of the Purple Heart mentioned above. The first was presented to General MacArthur in 1942.. actually he got 2, both backdated for actions in the Great War.
But the internet rarely tells you what this blog has told you in the past. That being that the first Purple Heart, by date of action and injury went to a female nurse. A Canadian nurse named Beautrice MacDonald from PEI. You can search on this site for several mentions of her career and medals including the first ever awarding of the Distinguished Service Cross to anyone in the US.
The Commander if Chief again seemed to show a lack of respect when addressing a conference of veterans just a few weeks back when saying that he always wanted a Medal of Honor, but joked that he had been told he did not qualify. He then smiled and remarked that as President he could just award himself the medal. But that others apparently said that was not a good idea.
On a more positive note President Trump was involved in a wonderful ceremony earlier this month. Prior to presenting the Medal of Honor to Staff Sergeant David Bellavia he gave a wonderful, positive and uplifting speech about the medal, the incredible bravery of the recipient and his platoon of brothers and left everyone in the room no doubt coming away from the event with tears of joy in their eyes for the privilege on being in that packed room and hearing such a motivating performance.
I highly recommend you set aside 20 minutes to watch the presentation here...
And even more moving is to hear this hero's speech after being inducted into the Pentagon's Hall of Heroes and receiving the Medal of Honor flag the following day. That 20 minute video is here...
And after watching the 2nd you hopefully will agree with me that the Staff Sergeant's speech is full of... Words of Wisdom
see you next Sunday.