Over the past several months a few great stories have eaten up much space and true to form, others got lost.
Today I want to back-track and bring you brief notes about 4 in June alone. And there are lots before still needing attention in this space.
A story out of Owen Sound Ontario no doubt caught the eyes of many a historian and millions of others interested in Canadian History. This city, some 200 km north-west of Toronto on the southern shores of Georgian Bay is the hometown of famed Canadian Billy Bishop, our country's greatest air ace of WI and Air Marshall of WWII.
The museum at his old home, and now a National Heritage Site, opened up a new exhibit of artifacts, model planes of the era and other trivia. Descendants attended and Billy's very uniform and medals, loaned to the Canadian War Museum, were loaned back for the several day display that started on 4 June.
At the very cemetery in the city where Billy is buried, at rest are also 2 other Victoria Cross recipients... Tommy Holmes and David Currie.
At the rear of the museum home, the provincial Lt. Governor was on hand for the planting of a small oak sapling, and unveiling of a plaque. The oak seed came to
Canada form the very fields at Vimy Ridge, grown into a sapling and sent to Ontario.
A second plaque was unveiled, on 3rd Avenue West between 10th and 11th Streets, renaming same as the new Billy Bishop VC Way.
About a week later another story told of the re-running of the play, famous across North America, and called... "Billy Bishop Goes To War."
Both events were in honour of the 100th anniversary of the 2 June 1917 solo attack on an air station by Bishop. Later the story was challenged as no witnesses came forth, but the claim was that he shot down 3 planes about to take off after him, and destroyed several others on the ground. For this he was awarded the Victoria Cross.
Billy Bishop was credited with 72 planes destroyed or shot down, and thus became Canada's top air ace.
Switching now to the Medal of Honor, a story came up in my searches involving a connection of sorts to Canada. It came out of Massachusetts and involved a Spanish War Cable cutting recipient by the name of Herbert Foss. Regular readers have read much in this space about the several Canadians involved in that same incident and who were later awarded their own Medals of Honor.
Foss was from Hingham and at some point his picture, actual medals and others items were donated to city hall, which in turn produced a small display in their front lobby for the town's only MOH recipient. In the display they even have an actual piece of the very cable cut from the underwater communications cable that was cut back during the Spanish American War. Images of this are on this site in past blogs.
The mid June news about Foss tells of a years long movement to have a major facility in town named after him. It had been pointed out a few years back that just about 5 KM away, at Weymouth there were 5 MOH men so awarded, and each had a school named after them.
Well the good news is that earlier this month it was announced that earlier approvals for a monument had come to life. Close to the water's edge, were any a sailor would approve, stands the Hingham Shipyard. And therein, in past years many a landing ship tank had been built.
And now it can boast being the home for the Foss memorial.
A June newspaper story from Nova Scotia also deserves honourable notice. It's headline reads... "10 Famous Historical Figures from South West Nova Scotia..."
The short article included the picture of William Hall, Canada's only coloured Victoria Cross recipient, who was also our first from the naval service and 3rd VC earned by one of our own. The article like the 9 others was most brief. Eight were on non military folks.
But the tenth, though not listed in that order, was none other than our favorite fellow..Joseph Noil of Medal of Honor fame, even though he was buried under the wrong spelling and without any notice of MOH status for over 130 years.
If you go back about a year or slightly more, little was ever known in NS or Canada about Joseph Noil. But with the great work done by so many and the recent unveiling at DC of the new MOH marker for Noil, the story has literally been exposed to MILLIONS.
Finally he is getting the recognition he deserves.
And speaking of remembering our past I will leave you with this wonderful image....
Such was sent with the request that the Ambassador take some of the Canadian staff to Arlington to honor about a dozen MOH recipients there, and to do so on National Medal of Honor Day, 25 March. The very day back in 1863 when the first ever Medals were actually presented to six heroes, said by many to be the first awards. Though it was later learned by many that several medals would later be awarded but for actions previous to the six Andrews Raiders honored in 1863.
The embassy loved the idea but soon leaned that as the president visits Arlington on MOH day often, it would be shut down to many other activities. They later advised me that they would definitely follow up on a ceremony at Arlington to honor these heroes but it would have to be on another day.
They soon advised that a date was picked... it was July Ist... Canada Day.. and so on Canada Day on 2005, a dozen years ago a ceremony was conducted by Ambassador McKenna and his top military man ...attache Rear Admiral Ian Mack. Both shown above. With them went a Lt Colonel, a Master Warrant Officer and several other ranks. They visited the graves noted, read a brief citation and placed a flag for Canada. From then till today I believe Embassy officials have often visited this famous cemetery to pay respects to these heroes and a handful of other Canadians interred there.
In the 2005 speech the Ambassador said that "Bravery Knows No Nationality." indeed how true.
As we celebrate our 150th, let us not forget our Medal of Honor Men, and our Victoria Cross men, and indeed all military past, present and encourage those yet to come forward to take that first stop when the torch is tossed their way.
Hoping you have a happy July 1st and that you take a few moments to reflect on these men, women and their loved ones,