Well, here we are at the end of another Black History Month in Canada. And like most of years past, those in the main stream print media tell a handful of stories about William Hall and his heroism fighting with the British before Canada was Canada, and how he was awarded a Victoria Cross for his heroism.
But, as noted in the last blog and many before, the same print media in Canada seems silent, or next to silent about another Black, Canadian born from Nova Scotia as well, that also earned the highest of bravery awards. The Medal of Honor, whilst serving in the American forces through the Civil War and beyond. His story has been oft told in this space. It is too bad the print media couldn't give it the same coverage.
Over the last 2 days I used two national search vehicles that search hundreds of newspapers, and while I found very few about William Hall this month, I cannot find any for Noil in February.
As upsetting was the early Feb. press release from our Minister of Veterans Affairs and Deputy Minister of National Defense. He noted the importance of the black community in Canada's history, how they fought with their white brothers and sisters in WWl and WWll, noted important milestones of both World Wars, and that Nova Scotia's 2nd Construction Battalion was the first large black unit raised in Canada.
While this was great, he gave no mention to the Black unit raised in Victoria back in the 1860's..before Canada, once again, was Canada, but managed to note the importance of recognizing the first Black Victoria Cross recipient...of course being William Hall.
But he gave no notice of the ONLY Black man in the history of Canada... Joseph Noil, who earned a Medal of Honor, just after the Civil War, or that he and thousands of other British North Americans of colour took the underground railway backwards... back into the US to fight for their brothers and sisters between 1861 and 1865.
This from the very man that just months earlier recognized the importance of Noil's bravery and our shared heritage when offering his support for the work that this blog and others did to finally have a proper marker unveiled over his grave. A grave with a misspelled name, and lacking any notice of his hero status. A situation that lasted over 130 years till many individuals and groups pooled resources to fix the horrible situation.
Perhaps some day our government speech writers could do some more homework and help better circulate the lesser known, but equally important facts of days long gone.
Often it seems that our American friends are more likely to honour us than we are. Here is a case in point...
I was thrilled to yet again be interviewed by these folks and both the resulting story and this video can been found at ...
This is a wonderful short clip honouring Joseph Noil, and in turn the US Navy, the bigger Military family and the people of the United States. I highly encourage you to have a look at it. It shows you what the American government can do. The obvious question is... why can't the government of Canada do the same?
Back in 1927 Canada seemed to do a better job, when it thanked America. On Armistice Day, hundreds of troops and officials from both Canada and the US attended at Arlington to unveil the Cross of Sacrifice in honour of the brave Americans that fought with the Canadians in the Great War and lost their lives.
Below you can see the inscriptions honouring the Americans who joined the Canadian
military and went off to war, before the US entered the war.
Those honoured lost their lives in the conflict. Later, as shown below, panels were also added for the losses suffered by the Americans, in Canadian uniform, during WWll and in Korea. Once America joined us in battle, some of them later transferred over to American units. A few of these even went on to be awarded Medals of Honor as noted in blogs on this site in the past.
It told of the horrendous situation in Iran where the US Embassy was attacked, and how 6 hostages had been sheltered by the Canadian Embassy and ultimately sneaked out of harm's way and back into the US. It was a major Canadian story but movie makers decided to make it a US story instead.
President Jimmy Carter was to later state to CNN that ..."90% of the contributions to the ideas and the consummation of the plan was Canadian. And the movie almost gives full credit to the CIA. The main hero, in my opinion, was Ken Taylor who was the Canadian Ambassador who orchestrated the whole process."
Ken Taylor would later received The Congressional Gold Medal from the President and some 112 other citations and awards. Six of the Canadian rescuers were later awarded the Order of Canada. And from what we see below, the Americans from around the country gave thanks to Canada.
The Order is the centerpiece of the Canadian Awards system. It is the highest of awards and is given in recognition of outstanding accomplishments, dedication to the community and service to the nation.
The photo shows a vote of thanks after the hostages finally made it home to the US in late January 1980.
This blog is getting far too long so I will end it here and will bring the conclusion in a special blog on Wed or Thursday.
Special because it will be an early blog for next Sunday, and since I will be away at a weekend military history seminar I will not be making an entries that weekend.
See you in a few days...