Perhaps with numbers still coming in years ago, and the visiting of NB and probably some sort of memorial there, Victoria City councillor Chris Coleman returned home to spread word on an idea for a local monument. It quickly resonated on several fronts.
This would morphe into actions that would see the eventually unveiling of a gorgeous memorial just blocks from the provincial capital buildings in Victoria. It would honour those who gave up their tomorrows so that we could have our todays. It would honour also those who came home with injuries, be they medical, or post traumatic in nature. And it would also honor the immediate and extended families, loved ones and friends who also must carry the burdens of war.
Because of their accomplishment their picture should appear in newspapers across the country. And mounted in every mess hall and military establishment across the country as well. Front and center, though difficult to read, is their leader, their President. His name is President..Brig. General JEL (Larry) Gollner OMM,CD, the former Colonel of the PPCLI.
Here is another picture that should be widely spread.
Because it is so symbolic of our role to help where and whenever we can, the society chose this picture over many, many photos to be depicted as the lone image on the new memorial.
In late September of last year a most formal and impressive ceremony took place to unveil this new addition to the important Military memorials located throughout the greater Victoria area.
Four Honour Guards, one for the navy, army, air force and RCMP, where sharply assembled under the capable command of the Lt Col. Sawyer, commanding Officer of the Canadian Scottish (since retired). A fifth guard was formed on site for any veterans of the Afghanistan War, and I do believe it became a larger guard than any of the other four.
As the various dignitaries arrived, some even from our nation's capital, they would receive the salute from several hundred service men and women. There were at least five from the general ranks, including a full 4 star retired general. Other special guests included local, provincial and federal politicians, the clergy, various cadet entities, police, first aid, and most importantly the Memorial Cross families who had lost a son or daughter, father or mother, brother or sister, a loved one or very special friend, who's name has now been preserved for all to see for all time.The society's Patron was our own BC Lt Governor, Her Honor Judith Guichon. (recently retired)
The guard being inspected in both cases is that of the vets who served in Afghanistan. This veteran of some 35 yrs service, now retired, well medalled and sharply attired is Major Hue Carter of the Canadian Scottish. He holds the distinction of also being a qualified Lt. Colonel.
Hue Carter and I have known each other for about 40 years, and actually served together most briefly back in Gagetown NB whist we attended our Master Warrant Officer course in 1979. He would later be promoted to Chief Warrant Officer and served with the Scottish as their RSM many years ago and before taking a commission and following in the footsteps of his father, also a Lt Colonel I believe.
When asked how he felt about the parade and the memorial he expressed his deep concern for those who did not come home, and added that he almost joined in that number... but more on that later. He also added his incredible pride for the service of all those on parade and humbled at being invited from those witnessing the parade from the sidelines, to actually join in with the other Afghanistan veterans. But he did add that he has strong wished that Canada would not have to yet again see our men and women in harm's way.
Many of the dignitaries took to the podium to remark about our service to those in need in far away places, and most acknowledged that our hosts around the world have the same pride in Canada as we ourselves have, but too often are reluctant to admit.
Her message was that so much has been accomplished over the years for the women and children of Afghanistan and gave incredible figures of school attendance by young girls that so many years ago was unheard of. The Ambassador's message of walking the road so alone for women's rights for decades reminded me so much of my own upbringing and stories passed down to me about my mother's 50 plus years of struggling on the womens' issues front.
In an ever so brief few minutes I told her of how proud my mother would have been of her work, and she then returned the same comments about Mom, and noted her familiarity with the Canadian struggle regarding the famous Person's Case and was quite pleased to learn that in just a few days It would be October and once again be celebrated as Womens' History Month. A battle my mother and two others from the Victoria area carried for over a year till reaching the wonderful conclusion that all women... and men today can celebrate.
As health kept me from bringing this story to you on Sunday, and only partially today, I will return tomorrow or Wednesday to complete this blog.