But what these numbers do not include is about 900 medals that were purged in 1916-17. Though illegal, as oft noted in this space, at least 350 (of the 900) need to be really added to the above, making the totals closer to 1,900 medals for Civil War actions.
Ignoring the purged medals in the calculations, do not equate to their never being awarded. Regardless of the prevalent numbers found on the net, many by folks who ought to finally step forth and acknowledge this.
These numbers would mean about 475 medals per year of fighting were awarded.
Moving forward to the US's War in Afghanistan, now the nation's longest lasting war ever, is in its 16th year and only 16 Medals of Honor have being awarded. That's one a per year, versus the Civil war rate of 475 per year.
Granted, the criteria of today is much more stringent, as it should be. But with the 1917 Purge, and the creation of a pyramid of about 80 other medals for bravery that culminate with the highest of course being the MOH, something seems to be very wrong in the way heroism is being recognized in the US of A.
Now onto another matter, but still with Afghanistan and closer to home. As a result of the work I have been doing in this space and elsewhere, I had the incredible privilege of be invited and attending one of the most emotional ceremonies of recent memory.
Here in Victoria yesterday some thousand or more serving members of the Canadian Forces, our Reserves and Cadets, veterans, families and loved ones representing some of the 163 Canadians who lost their lives in aid of Afghanistan, politicians, the clergy and more attended, with one thing in mind.
That being the culmination of the creation and unveiling of the first ever monument in Canada to honor our 40,000 plus, in or out of uniform, who served, and those who paid the ultimate price for the freedoms we all enjoy.
I will bring you a column on this in the weeks to come, but in the mean time check the web for many stories of the event and please also visit the Greater Victoria Afghanistan Memorial Project's web site for great background information at ... https://vicafghanistanmemorial.ca/ and the site https://www.facebook.com/victoriabcbuzz/ to see an actual video of the 90 minute ceremony.
If you are anything like me, it will bring tears to your eyes as you feel the emotional pain of the families of the 163 heroes. You cannot help but notice the twitching as some of the vets struggled to stand..or sit.. and also deal with their daily physical pain caused from service in Afghanistan and perhaps elsewhere. Yet they still stand ... and sit as tall as possible to show their pride in services given and the price others paid for mankind.
More on this in a later blog, but now I return to last week's subject of another war and time.
From Ontario eastward came the bulk of more than 53,000 British North Americans who fought in the US Civil War. Some of these were actually living in the US and yet more even came from Western Canada all the way out to the west coast of the country, though most may not know this.
From Ontario east over the years there have been many Civil War buffs who, like tens of thousands in the US have at one time or another been involved in what has become known as re-enactors who relive the battles and military lives of many a regiment, both Northern and Southern.
Many a father fought against son, brother against brother. Those actually lost to CW battle deaths, injury and disease would eclipse those lost in all American wars up until the days of Vietnam. The job (hobby) of the re-enactor is to portray those stories and keep alive the great heroism and heritage of these men and women. Stories that unfortunately most have no knowledge or have completely forgotten about.
One of these re-enactor groups is the Montreal based Grays and Blues (G's and B's,) who don't pick sides or play politics on who was right or wrong. They represent the men and the battles. And on 16 September, they represented a very special niche of participants. Those from British North America.
And they did this in a very big way. One gathering much notice in the press and thus, taking incredible strides to remind the public of this forgotten part of our past. In so doing each and every one of them, and their hundreds of supporters have all now become part of the history of both Canada and the United States. Their footprint... cast in black and grey granite... will be a show place and tourism stop for many a decade to come, for Canadians, Americans and others from around the world.
And so it should be!
Among those who played a special role in the event, about to be revealed, is Mr. Stewart Irvine, shown below at front left, and who is the Vice President of the G's and B's of Montreal. Next to him is Robert McLachlan, the association's President.
The B's and G's have been around for about 12 years. Several years ago Irvine suggested that it was time the group considered playing a role in the creation of a monument honouring the massive Canadian involvement in the Civil War and to have it ready for unveiling during our 150th year of celebration as a country.
Soon the idea gained acceptance and over about three years designs were selected, costs evaluated, funding programs put in place, a location selected and no doubt many were running in all directions to do their bit to see the project come to fruition.
According to the association, this would be the only national memorial to the Canadians. A memorial to honour 40,000 plus, when at the very time of the war, those serving in the military within the Canada of the day, only themselves numbered about 40,000. While not an official delegation from Canada, the numbers reflect the fact that after the numbers involved in WWl and WWll, those of Civil War days was third in number from Canada heading off to war, be they official or otherwise. And one must ask..how many memorials do we have across the country for those serving in both World Wars?
In 2013 the association finally selected a site for the memorial, one close to the border, yet with easy access and appropriate to the cause. The proposal was well embraced by Long Sault Ontario's Lost Villages Historic Society and the Lost Villages Museum complex at Ault Park. With a dozen buildings dedicated to the history of the area, what better location and clientele could there be?
This site is dedicated to the history of 9 communities that disappeared when the area needed to be flooded to make way for the construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway. One of the sites lost to history included the farm owned by a fellow named John Crysler. While having nothing to do with the auto maker, he owned, lived and farmed on the land that the Battle of Crysler's Farm on November 11 1813 was fought. A battle that should also be given thought to, annually on November 11th.
Many groups and individuals came forth to assist with the work to be done. In the above April 2017 group photo, Jim Brownell sits on Robert McLachlan's right. As President of the Lost Villages Historical Society it is believed he was one of the three to sign an agreement to go ahead with the creation and mounting of the memorial. Two over from him, and with pen in hand is Andrew Martel of Martel and Sons Inc, who I believe actually made the memorials, and also signs the agreement to do so.
On 16 September the Blues and Greys of Montreal were joined by the above mentioned groups, no doubt local, provincial and federal politicians, possibly attendance from the US, veterans, the local Sea Cadets, members of the some local and probably provincial and federal politicians and bureaucrats, members of the Stormont, Dundas, and Glengarry Highlanders and others in a crowd of some 250 to witness history taking place.
Decades that will hopefully continue to keep these men's and women's stories alive. The above re-enactors, and all those not in the picture, that played a role in this work deserve a very warm thanks from the people of Canada and the US for what they have done. They have created what could have been created in the years and decades before, but no one came to the plate.
Two things before I sign off.
First, please visit the site at... https://www.gofundme.com/honour-canadians ... to see a short but very good video of the work done by the Grays and Blues of Montreal.
While not wishing to rain of the G's and B's parade tonight, I do want to mention that they and I are in disagreement about some of the numbers mentioned above. I will bring brief note to that effect next week, but in the mean time please look them up on the net and give them a big hug via the email. They deserve it.