All were shocked when I said the answer may not be right. It all depends, as noted in past blogs, on HOW the question was worded. I then went on to say that the Canada we now celebrate was formed in 1867 and Sir John was certainly the first PM in the new Confederation. But one might want to recall that before this entity there were others and one of these was called the PROVINCE of Canada and it consisted of 2 parts, and it had a PM other than MacDonald. Do some homework and you will get a different answer.
That aside, we all enjoyed a great time, spoke a little history and a lot more of everything else. Then came the fireworks over the Victoria BC Harbour. Most impressive and the large crowd gathered five floors, all along the inner harbour and in a zillion little and not so little boats, It seems that all were constantly going wild with yet another display of lights and VERY LOUD bangs.
I took the day off blogging yesterday, and todays is about a Canada Day celebration that I very proudly remember from back in 2005.
In late 2004 or very early 2005 I wrote to the offices of the Canadian Ambassador to the US to let him know that in his regular dealings with the US, there is a great opportunity to give a wonderful plug for Canada. This plug comes from the fact that Canadians have played such a significant role in the US military dating back to the Civil War, and in fact even much earlier. I also noted that just a few miles away, at Arlington Cemetery, one of the most famous cemeteries in the US, dozens of Canadians lay at rest.
At their request I provided considerable information on nine Canadian Medal of Honor recipients buried there and because of this, I thought it would be most appropriate for the Canadian Embassy in DC to go to Arlington, plant the Canadian flag, lay wreaths and conduct a ceremony in honor of these heroes, and of course to invite the press. I also asked that such a ceremony should be conducted on March 25th, because that, as regular readers of this blog know, is the Medal of Honor Day in the United States, and marks the anniversary of that date back in 1863 when 6 Americans received the first ever Medals of Honor from the Secretary of War at DC. (Others would later be awarded for actions earlier than these six.)
The embassy was very excited about the idea and looked into it but found that the cemetery would not permit a service on that date as the US President was there that day doing the ceremony for the Unknown soldier. But soon I was advised that the Canadian service would take place, and that they thought I would like the new date chosen... July 1st... Canada Day. Boy did I ever like it!
Admiral Mack is about to step away from the grave marker for another Quebec born MOH recipient, Captain Martin T McMahon who earned his MOH during the Civil War at a place called White Oak Swamp in June of 1862. By war's end he would wear the rank of a Major General. He started as a private.
The records for Canadian John C Gilmore have not yet revealed where in Canada he came from, but it is well documented that he not only served in the Civil War but ended up also as a General. His marker is the third one above, and his MOH was awarded for actions in May 1863 at Salem Hts, Va.
The marker on the right carefully conceals the name of Montreal born Cpl. Alexander Scott. His MOH was awarded for actions at Monocacy Maryland on 9 July 1864.
A few of The Ambassador's military attache also took part in the ceremony. On the left and holding the paper is Air Force Colonel R Robertson. (since retired) It is interesting that in these pictures it can be seen that the navy, the army and the air force all played a role that day in honouring these heroes. And so it should be! Canadians in US uniforms of the army and the navy and the air force and the marines and coast guard all earned MOH's. (Note: the Air Force men were Americans in Canadian uniform first, then on return to US forces, earned their MOH's.)
The second marker above is that for Captain John H Brown from New Brunswick, His medal was awarded for actions on 30 November 1864 at Franklin Tn. The Marker for St. Catherines Ontario born Lieutenant (later Colonel) George H Morgan is next. His medal was for actions on 17 July 1872 during the native uprisings at Dry Fork Arizona. A US army camp in Bosnia Herzegovina is named in his honour. His father, also a Canadian, was a general in the US Civil War. And finally the last in this row is a marker for Nova Scotia Born seaman Willard D Miller, who was also in the cable cutting incident in 1898 in Cuba above mentioned. Willard and his brother were sailors together, were in the same event together and both were awarded MOH's and became the only brothers in that war to be so awarded. There were only about a dozen sets of brothers in the entire history of the medal to be so awarded. Two of these other sets have Canadian connections as well.
Since all are saluting, the wreath is about to be or has just been placed at one of the grave markers in the above picture. The first marker above is for Henry P Russell noted earlier. Next in this line is Lieutenant, later Navy Captain John Grady from New Brunswick. His medal was earned in Mexico at Vera Cruiz on 23 April 1914. And final PEI's Sgt MacGillivary earned his Medal of Honor during the Battle of the Bulge in France on 1 January 1945. He would later become President of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society and as such, was the only known foreign born recipient so elected.
In honouring these heroes, Ambassador McKenna notes that... "It's our National Day. It's a day Canadians celebrate, but it's a day as well were we should honour our warriors who have been recognized by other countries by being awarded their highest medal for bravery." His remarks also included the title comments of this blog.
All of the above pictures are courtesy of the Canadian Embassy at Washington DC.
The stories of each one of these heroes have appeared in this space in past blogs.