The pile fell over and there it was... tell them about the 150th anniversary of Gettysburg. Well you've heard it by now anyway. Over a million people are expected over the next year to tour the battlefields of Gettysburg. One in ten of them arrived over 1- 3 July to celebrate the occasion. Actually the word celebrate seems inappropriate in as much as about 51,000 where either killed, wounded, captured or went missing in just three days of America history.
Men ... and women... from 52 nations fought in the Civil War, including of course upwards of 50,000 from Canada. Possibly over 100 of these at Gettysburg. And many of them still rest to this day in American cemeteries. Some came back home with Medals of Honor. Others came back with Medals for actions before... or after the July battle. Nevertheless, they were there... and they did their part.
The battle was supposed to be one sided... the South lured the north into position to be ambushed. But the North didn't co-operate. They arrived too soon and as soon as the South arrived the clash started. The rest is history...as they say.
Gettysburg, and indeed the entire war caused the nation to rebuild itself. And it caused the north to give birth to the Dominion we now call Canada. Some day, when our leaders have had enough of celebrating the War of 1812, maybe they will have time to think of the impact the US Civil War had on the creation of Canada and start making plans to duplicate the dollars spent of the 1812 celebration on the 1861-5 battles as well. Maybe!
But taking a leap in another direction to WW11 there are a few notes to be made on the Devils Brigade, covered in four columns ending a few days back. Since the announcement that a Congressional Gold Medal of Honor will be hopefully awarded to the First Special Service Force in the news recently, several papers across both Canada and the US have published stories of veterans still alive from that unit that are very excited about the news. One in Nova Scotia has the Premiere visiting a vet, while another has a city mayor presenting a certificate of recognition to another Canadian vet and another notes that there is even a sign erected in Alberta near Lethbridge that serves to preserve the memory of the Brigade. Though it might have gotten better mileage, pardon the pun, if it also used the words...Devils Brigade as well. It is probably an attempt to say that the road on which it is mounted (Hwy #4) is the one leading directly south into the US and to Helena Colorado where the men took their initial training. Here is that sign.
Still with the Brigade, the Canadian Mint has recently announced, (what timing) that is it making both a gold and a silver commemorative coin in honour of the joint US, Canadian brigade. And here are images of the front and back of these two coins, that will be no doubt be available from the mint or your local coin shops in the near future. (Wonder how many times the Canadian mint has engraved USA on its Canadian coins?
And finally, a note about the Korean War. A past blog brought you the story of Colonel Lewis Millett and how he earned the Medal of Honor in Korea, That blog also told you about his connections to Canada, and he has been given honourable mention several times in other blogs on this site. Well folks, he and all the others from Canada who saw action in the Korean "Police Action" are now being honoured also by the Canadian mint with a coin shown here...
That day will be celebrated across the country for the first time ever this year on July 27th, which is the 60th year to the day since that war came to an end.
It is unfortunate that so many veterans of that war have long since been gone, but kudo's to the Canadian government for finally correcting this omission, and congratulations to those veterans still with us and to all their families.