Other duties have taken me away from the blog for today. I shall return on Sunday 8 September. Please join me then.
Within a few months this blog will be starting its tenth year in this space. Today's blog is number 550. Throughout the very long journey, completely self financed to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars, my journey has taken me into three of the 4 continental corners of the United States and across Canada various times.
Throughout this journey I have often written not only about men in uniform, mostly in the US, but Canada as well, but also included dedicated space to bring you the stories of many of the women in uniform that deserve notice here.
Much space has been dedicated to the "Famous Five" who led the years long battle to prove that women were actually PERSONS as well. The obstinence of Canadian authorities, for years with their heads in the sand, resulted in five women taking the battle to Britain. Thus resulting in their rights being confirmed and eligibility to sit in the Canadian Senate and equal to that of any man.
From that later came the Persons Awards in 1979 and still later, in 1992, the whole month of October annually being declared as Women's History Month in Canada.
Over the years these matters have received much attention in this space. And it is apparent they need much more attention.
These are the five women who gave so much to carry the fight and finally established the rights of women to serve in the Canadian Senate.
As noted in past blogs (searchable with tool in upper right of this page,) female lawyers had written in Ontario in 1979 about women's rights. They noted that it was exactly 50 years earlier that the Famous Five won their case in Britain.
They also noted that something should be done about bringing forth the story of that earlier struggle.
Women on the staff of David MacDonald, the federal government's Minister Responsible for the Status of Women liked the idea. Plans where considered, and he presented same to RH Prime Minister Joe Clarke, who then presented same to the then serving Governor General... His Excellency the Right Honorable Edward Schreyer.
The plan called for the offices of the Status of Women to receive nominations from across Canada. That office would then whittle them down, a final jury would make the selections, the women selected would be advised of the honor about to be bestowed on them, a date set for a most elaborate presentation of the awards and the Secretary advising the GG of the steps being taken, and with GG approval a ceremony at Ottawa would finally take place.
There was one to be done annually, and while the goal was for there to be five recipients, on a few occasions the selectors could not whittle the numbers down to five, no doubt because of the credentials each possessed. In several years there were 7 recipients, including in that first year. Several other years saw 6 but the majority of the years saw five awards being made.
Here we see the very first Persons Award, in Canada's history being awarded. The credentials of all seven are also noted in this news article.
And as often shown on the site, below is the actual medal itself. it depicts five women but NOT the five who actually fought the battle for Canada.
Here we see three of the seven first ever recipients. Sophie Dixon's name is difficult to see but she is at top of the three women shown here.
Here we see three more of the first ever recipients. Unfortunately I have yet to locate an image of the 7th woman...Toronto's Marion Royce.
This year marks the 41st year of the award. While I believe a total of 222 awards have been made since 1979, the governor general's site and that of the Status of women show no records of any awards over the past 2 years.
One must wonder if there will be any awards announced this October.
In the early days of the award, it was clearly known as ..."The Persons' Award." Over the years it has been morphed into the current name... that being the Governor General's Awards in Commemoration of the Persons Case.'
Regardless, Information about the award can be discovered at the federal government's web site. Just search for 'Persons Awards.'
Note that the page, shown above, was updated in mid April of this year. This is rather strange when the very page notes that It is too late to nominate someone for 2019, but apparently you can still nominate someone for 2020, for an event that was supposed to take place a year ago.
As interesting, if you search on the site you will come up with a page talking about the "Policy and Jury." The page discusses Jury selection and other matters regarding the medal. On that page, apparently also recently updated, you are told at section 4, that If you wish to get further details go to section 2a above. Trouble is no such subsection exists.
Da! # 2
In 2019 and 2020 I had a few conversations with officials at Status of Women and the governor general's offices. I was asking why no awards have been made for those 2 years. I was told that internal shuffling and others matters needed sorting out but hopefully awards would seem be awarded. Yet none have.
DA! # 3.
Who knows what we shall see in October. The announcement of Medals can be forwarded through the internet and Lt Governors offices in appropriate cases can assist in presentations that Covid may make difficult.
But three years without these medals, and not 5 medals but 15 at least, for the missing years need to be made to reflect on the true meaning of these government offices and better reflecting that this disservice to the women of Canada has been recognized and steps taken to rectify it.
I encourage all readers to contact your federal MP's and women's groups in Canada to ask that they join in making their views known that this disservice has gone on far too long and must be put a stop to.
Make the recipients, their loved ones and friends and the thousands who have joined in making the work of these wonderful women acknowledged once again.
And give some deap thoughts expressed by the very first group of recipients back in 1979...
Fights for Women's Rights Not over Yet."
See you in 2 weeks.
It was 7 years ago this month that the United States declared that, from that day forth, 7 August was to be celebrated in honor of those wounded or killed in action. It would be known as Purple Heart Day.
The date chosen was deliberate. It was on that day 249 years ago that General Washington created what was then called the Badge of Military Merit. It's story has oft been covered in this space.
This year that date was yesterday, and events took place across the U.S. in honour of the brave men and women who were either wounded or killed in action.
Today the Purple Heart is known as the oldest military medal in the U.S.. However fact checkers can quickly discovered that the Badge was discontinued after only a handful were awarded and within a few months of it's very creation.
Thus any claim that it is the oldest medal in use with the U.S. military is 100% wrong, though revisionist history has yet to admit it.
The original order creating the Badge of Military Merit actually created three "badges." The first being a service stripe, then called a "strip" for 3 years of faithful service, including bravery, fidelity and good conduct and a 2nd badge, made of 2 strips (stripes), for those serving 6 or more years of such service. And those strips... or stripes... are still in use and it is these that one could claim are the oldest "Medals" still in service with the U.S. military.
While other attempts to revive the original badge, (which consisted of a piece of purple cloth and bearing the word "merit " failed, things changed in the early 1930's.
No doubt with approved from his superiors, on 22 Feb, 1932 General MacArthur issued his General Order #3 and created the Purple Heart of today. It was in the image of the earlier clothe version from so many years earlier.
The first image above is that of General Washington's Badge of Military Merit, and shown below is the 1932 Purple Heart, still in use today.
General MacArthur, being the shy man he was (not) declared that he was to be the first in the military to receive the new medal. Some claim, though I have yet to verify, that the reverse of his medal has it numbered... #1.
Over the past several years, in early August I have reviewed the web regarding the Purple Heart. In most of those searches the reader would learn that MacArthur' PH was the first ever earned or awarded.
While he clearly seems to be the first to take possession of the medal, his pecking order has him NOT in first place.
With the very creation of MacArthur's Purple Heart in 1932, there was an interesting clause in the legislation. It provided for the backdating of the award to those qualified and going as far as 5 April 1917.
But the web is usually silent on this legality.
MacArthur received 2 Purple Hearts. They were dated for actions on 11 March 1918 and a 2nd medal on 12 October 1918, according to the National Museum of the U.S. Army.
This same sight... and others document that prior to the above dates, actions on 17 Aug., 1917 saw a Purple Heart awarded for a member of the US military for losing sight in one eye while tending the wounded in battle. The event has been referred to as possibly the first victim of WW l for the US... even when the U.S. was yet to join in that war.
And whist so little mentioned on the net, THIS FIRST Purple Heart was awarded... not to a soldier... but to a nurse, and about 7 months before MacArthur got his first of 2 Purple Hearts.
And her name was Beatrice Mary MacDonald, and she was a Canadian, from PEI, working as an American nurse in a British hospital in Belgium. It was clearly marked as such but the Germans bombed it anyway.
Too bad the web can't tell you this as much as telling of the false claim that MacArthur was the first to get this precious medal.
Back on Sunday next.
On the 26th of July, and for a few days beyond, I was helped by many friends and family in the celebration of my 72 birthday. A somewhat more important event took place back at Canada's capital city of Ottawa on that same day.
That was the very day that Mary Simon, 2 years my senior, became "Her Excellency, the Governor General of Canada.
Mrs Simon has, for many decades served her county and beyond at the highest levels. Much can be read about this work and her incredible accomplishments on the net.
The Governor General (shown above) was born in Northern Quebec at either one or the other of the two very similarly named locations shown in the map below.
Her Excellency became Canada's 30th Governor General since Confederation, and is the very first Governor General coming from Canada's Indigenous community.
In her acceptance speak in the Senate Chamber the Governor General included the remarks that...
After leaving the Senate Chambers her Excellency then went to the Tomb Of the Unknown Soldier and laid flowers honouring Canada's War Dead, received a 21 gun salute and inspected a Guard of honour.
You may have noticed Her Excellency wearing a badge of some sort over her left chest. This is the Order of Canada, the second highest award a civilian can received from the Canadian Government. Here is a better image of the award...
The Order of Canada has five different levels and medals are slightly different in each case. Of the bottom 3 levels the highest is that of a Companion, then comes an Officer and finally those at the Member level.
But above these three is the the Chancellor and Principal Companion of the Order. This is awarded to the Governor General. Above these of course is the Sovereign of the medal, the King or Queen.
Shown above is the Order of Canada awarded to the Governor General. Below this is the very medal worn by the last GG, who resigned about 5 months ago under rather interesting circumstances.
Some 39 years ago my mother was awarded the Order of Canada at the member level. At about that time I recall that My father contacted me while living in Nova Scotia, a brother and sister living in Ontario, a sister in Alberta and another sister in BC to join efforts in an exciting project.
We were all asked to share with him the costs of purchasing a gorgeous memorial Order of Canada plate like the one below. We were all thrilled with the idea and the plate is still in the family as a treasured keepsake. A reminder to all of us and those visiting our homes of the pride we all have in our mother's accomplishments over many decades in Canada and abroad resulting her being awarded the Order of Canada. Here is a picture of one of those precious gold trimmed plates...
I shall return on Sunday to continue with this story.
Hope you will join me then,