The blog was getting long and so I decided to bring you the rest of that story today. After publishing the blog I realized that I already had plans for today's story, so the Memorial Avenue blog will be finished next Sunday.
Christmas is in a few days and I want to share the following poem with you. It has been circulating for some time and is a powerful reminder of our obligation to remember and give thoughts to our military families of today and those of the past. Those who have, and continue to pay an enormous price to serve us each and every day. As will those who step up to take the torch in all our tomorrow's.
And while we think of those far away on occasions like Christmas, we also need to think of the families, friends and neighbours. All yearning to have their friends or loved ones back in their arms once again.
Freedom is not free, and never will be! Nor will it often be earned at the end of a pen. More often it will sadly be at the end of a gun. Sadly for the man or woman at BOTH ends.
Lest We Forget....
Moving on, some have noticed the number at the end of today's blog. A number increasing in each of my last five blogs.
That number today shows a very exciting milestone in this blog's history. The first appeared in this space in mid December 2012. It now starts it's 8th year, with the milestone of 500 blogs now reached.
But my interest if the Medal of Honor, and the Canadians serving with US forces and being awarded this highest of medals by the President goes back a lot further than 8 years. It can be traced back to the days of a freelance writer in the mid to late 1980's.
It was while listening to a CBC radio show, that I was stunned to hear the guest telling the listening audience that there were about 50,000 Canadians who fought in the US Civil War. The guest then added that 54 of these men were awarded the US Medal of Honor.
Thinking the numbers were very high I spent some time at the library and came up with similar numbers. I planned on doing something with the material. But like most things in life, plans change. The information over the years and many a move, got buried further and further down in the boxes of possessions.
In early 2001 I started part time and often longer... looking into the Canadian role played in the US Civil War. More particularly the Medals of Honor and the Canadians who were so awarded.
Initial plans were to write a book about Canada's role in the heritage of US military heroism. A role almost completely unknown above the US/Canada border. (And in fact also little known in the US.) A role that includes a Canadian connection to the very first medal awarded by date of action in US history.
Years or research passed by and in the process many folks tried to convince me that I should do a blog about the subject. Years of rejecting the idea finally gave way to the first ever blog in this space in December of 2012.
Today's blog now starts my 8th year in this space.
While exact numbers have not been carefully documented, it seems that figures mentioned in past have it that I have traveled some 40,000 Kms and more and spent over $20,000 over the years in expenses and traveling across Canada and the US on Medal of Honor matters.
I have been paid a small honorarium twice on speaking engagements, had accommodations provided for the night twice in individuals homes, 2 nights in a BB and I night in a hotel room. Several meals have been provided to me over the years. All other expenses have been out of pocket.
I have personally met and shaken the hand of at least 45 Medal of Honor recipients, sat in the homes of a few deceased recipients or their descendants, met with an Ambassador to Canada, met with a formed Chief of Defense, communicated with a Minister of National Defense and other MP's, and MLA's in several Canadian provinces. I have also met with, or corresponded with several US and Canadian Generals and Admirals, and senior bureaucrats at both Canadian and US embassies and consulate general or consul offices on both sides of the US /Canada border.
This work has also seen me in contact with numerous archives, museums, heritage, historic and genealogical groups, libraries and more in many parts of North America.
I have been blessed, privileged and most honoured to be invited to the funeral of a MOH recipient, and also attended two others funerals of recipients. An invitation to attend the christening of the most recent coast guard ship named in honor of Canadian born Douglas Munro was a real honor. There I met many most senior dignitaries from the US Coast Guard and federal members of government. I was even permitted an opportunity to address the Commanding Officer and most of the serving members on the vessel.
Many ceremonies at MOH graves have relied on some input form my research. One family even wrote and thanked me, (though others were equally responsible) for giving back to the family , a history lost for almost 130 years. A second Canadian recipient's story also resulted in the unveiling of a new marker after he was buried under the WRONG name for over 130 years. The research bringing this about was partly based on my research.
All of this and so much more has been possible because of the fabulous assistance offered me by way of research an more importantly the mental support for this work over the years. Two groups in particular are due great kudos. They are the Medal of Honor Historical Society of the US, of which I remain the sole Canadian member, for over a decade, and for about the same length of time the impressive board and researchers, all volunteers themselves, at the Victoria Genealogical Society who have over the past been such a great help in my efforts to preserve Canada's heritage.
All this being said, it is finally time when I revisit what I have been doing for almost 2 decades and put this all in a book.
While I have promised to bring you the end to the update on Memorial Avenue, this will be done next week.
Current plans are that I will probably not be back at this space for the entire month of January. A month I need to spend deciding on the next part of this journey. This will involve a book, or perhaps more than one on this subject, and creation locally of at least two monuments that have long been overdue in BC.
So with that, I will sign off and hope to see you next Sun day. And as always, I welcome, though receive far too little comment, from most of my readers.
As noted above, please pass this blog along, have a great Xmas and say a prayer for those off in many parts of the world, and also right here at home doing their bit to protect us.