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Yard Ape
Grizzled Old Veteran
Member # 158
Icon 1 posted 23 April 2021 10:55
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Lest we forget, peacekeepers are soldiers too
Canadians have been killed in the line of duty since the Korean War
Lewis MacKenzie
National Post
23 Apr 02

I can only hope that the very appropriate and much appreciated reaction by the media, the public and, yes, our political leaders, to the recent loss of our four soldiers to "friendly" fire in Afghanistan was the beginning of a long overdue trend. In times of relative peace the death of a soldier abroad stands out in stark contrast to the comfort and security we enjoy within our own borders. Yet, for reasons I have never understood, the same groups mentioned above were surprisingly indifferent to the increasing number of deaths and serious injuries sustained by our soldiers overseas during the past decade.

Perhaps it's the oxymoronic and chronically misused term "peacekeeping" that confuses people. Perhaps the public and the media assumed that our soldiers, their remains arriving home for burial from places like Bosnia and Croatia and the Middle East, somehow met their demise from accidents unrelated to combat.

- Don't suggest that theory to the parents of the Canadian soldier whose body was torn in half by a rocket propelled anti-tank round when he was intentionally targeted by one of the belligerents during the war in the former Yugoslavia.

- Don't suggest it to the family of our young combat engineer blown to smithereens by a booby-trapped land mine in the same conflict.

- If you value your nose, don't suggest it to soldiers who survived snipers' bullets ripping through their bodies destroying vital organs or who lost both legs to land mines.

I was in the United States when the print media started to comment on the recent tragedy involving our soldiers in Afghanistan. I was shocked to read in more than one of their major newspapers that these were the first Canadian casualties "on the front line" since Korea. That evening, during the question and answer period following a speech I had given to the local community, I was asked what made Canada choose to participate in the Afghanistan mission considering the fact we hadn't dispatched our military abroad since Korea! Erroneously, I blamed the U.S. media for the misconception. So you can imagine my embarrassment the following day when I landed back in Canada and saw in our own papers that these were our first casualties in "offensive combat operations" since Korea. Who came up with this ridiculous category? Are we to await the first casualties in "defensive combat operations"? Is there to be a sub-category for victims of friendly fire? Give me a break. Let the record show that these fine young men were killed while serving their country and let the same record show that there have been 23 others laid to rest as a result of enemy action and accidents in the former Yugoslavia.

Canada is not just a "peacekeeping" nation as so often advertised by our leaders. The primary role of our military is to train for war. That's what we pay them for. Peacekeeping, as envisioned by its author Lester Pearson, has been pretty well relegated to the dusty pages of Cold War history, the recent mission between Eritrea and Ethiopia being a rare exception. The United Nations is dramatically reducing its military involvement in conflict resolution following its failures in Somalia, Srebrenica and Rwanda. When it does opt to get involved, as in Sierra Leone, the distinction between "combat" and "peacekeeping" is more than a little irrelevant to our soldiers under fire and even more so to the ones who are wounded or killed.

I believe our obligations as Canadians abroad are somewhat equivalent to our blessings at home. If I'm right, we have a large bill to pay. We might not always contribute our share to foreign aid and assistance; however, when it comes to blood, we sacrifice more than most in real terms, and, per capita, no other country comes close. I, for one, am pleased that at long last it seems the Canadian public, and those we elect to determine the employment of our military, finally recognize the price we demand on a regular basis from our sons and daughters in uniform. It serves no useful purpose to categorize deaths or injuries from enemy fire as combat, offensive combat, front-line, non-combat or accidental. There is no more honourable epitaph than: "He died for his country." Soldiers deserve and expect no more.
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Posts: 298 | From: Northern Ontario | Registered: Feb 2001
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rceme_rat
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Icon 1 posted 23 April 2021 17:25
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Thank you Lew!

I have been mulling this over since the news has taken the "first casualties since ..." turn.

I served on the Golan for a year. While there, I came across a monument to those peacekeepers, including nine Canadians, whose plane was shot down (and not by 'friendly fire'). There were also soldiers killed in Bosnia.

Closer to home, and further from harm's way, I have known good officers - and know of good soldiers - who have been killed on active duty training to do the nation's blessing.

So, yes, the latest casualties are the first "combat" casualties. But, no, they are not the only "non-accidental' casualties to occur to Canadian soldiers who were proudly serving their country.

We should remember them all.
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Posts: 222 | From: Toronto, Ontario | Registered: Jan 2001
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recceguy
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Icon 12 posted 23 April 2021 20:18
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Maybe a spot at the new military cemetary in Ottawa, full time Honour Guard and such, similar to Arlington in the States. Everyone killed on duty gets offered a spot with full honours, including dragging the press and the fat assed politicians out every time we bury one of our own.
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Posts: 274 | From: Ontario | Registered: Apr 2001
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Harry
Veteran
Member # 181
Icon 1 posted 23 April 2021 20:59
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Good luck,

That's why we pay for SISIP from some retired MWO or higher. So we can be buried at a place designated by us.

The last thing I want is some Grit government selling a National Cemetery off to private interests down the road. Lets keep it the way it is so our families can have dignity. Not some future exhumation for a parking lot for the J.C. Memorial Amusement Park.
[Wink]
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Posts: 114 | From: UBIQUE | Registered: Feb 2001
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rceme_rat
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Member # 136
Icon 1 posted 23 April 2021 23:06
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The National Cemetary is there, but I think you have to pay for reservations, just like any other cemetary. Don't recall the criteria, but I think anyone who has served and been released honourably is okay.
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Posts: 222 | From: Toronto, Ontario | Registered: Jan 2001
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Art Johnson
Old Soldier
Member # 7
Icon 1 posted 24 April 2021 12:14
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Honour Guard? please you have been watching too much CTV or US television. Even the CBC has been getting it right lately, with a little bit of prompting. For the Canadian Forces the term is GUARD OF HONOUR. I expect errors in terminology from civilians but not from those on this board who proffess to be Soldiers.
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Posts: 69 | From: Scarborough ON Canada | Registered: Jun 2000
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Suffield
Civilian
Member # 673
Icon 1 posted 24 April 2021 18:05
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Art johnson,
Sheesh, get a life!!! ROTGLMFAO [Big Grin] The guy was only making a suggestion. Let's look at the idea, instead of jerking peoples chains over arm chair semantics. I think the idea has some merit. A place like Arlington, where they have Honor Guards on call to bury their fallen. The idea of a certain spot reserved for military pers killed on duty, with the subdued pagentry involved has appeal. The cemetery in Ottawa is for all who want to buy a spot. I think what recceguy was suggesting was a special area given over only to members killed on duty with all the honours that accompany a military funeral. It would certainly keep our losses in the public and media eye (for awhile anyway).
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Posts: 3 | From: The WEST is Best | Registered: Feb 2002
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recceguy
Off Topic Forum Moderator
Member # 256
Icon 12 posted 24 April 2021 18:24
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Thank you Suffield,
That's just about what I had in mind, glad to see some people stay focussed.
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Posts: 274 | From: Ontario | Registered: Apr 2001
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Art Johnson
Old Soldier
Member # 7
Icon 1 posted 24 April 2021 21:58
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Civilian with Military Interests.
I can assure you that I have had a long, sucessful and adventurous life and I'm still going. You not being a soldier?, have missed the point I was trying to make. One of the things that separates us from our American cousins is our Military and its terminology, yes and even our drill. I am a proud Canadian Veteran and I don't like it when people especially the media in this country don't bother to do some research to find and use the proper terminology when speaking or writing about our military. I think it is insulting and shows a lack of respect for our military and our veterans and respect seemed to be the thrust of Recce Guys comment. If we can't get the basics right how in the world do you expect an uncaring government to get a National Veterans Cemetery right. If you would like to carry on this conversation further my email address is available with my profile.
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Posts: 69 | From: Scarborough ON Canada | Registered: Jun 2000
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Michael Dorosh
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Member # 63
Icon 1 posted 26 April 2021 23:47
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I agree wholeheartedly with Art. Some of the younger guys here need to shut up and listen to their elders...and their betters. If anyone wants to read about Art's service, check out Melady's book on Canadians in Korea - or check out his pictures at my site at http://www.canadiansoldiers.com (go to the photo galleries section).

We call things by certain names for a reason.

As for Guards of Honour, who would pay for them and what purpose do they really serve? Did anyone notice the repatriation of the remains of the Unknown Soldier?

How much do we have to cram the military down the throats of DACs (Dumb *** Civilians) before they "get it"?

Most never will, so just admit it.

Gary Bobrovitz of Global TV in Calgary said the friendly fire incident was the worst of its kind in Canadian history.

How truly disgusting! JRMacDonald of this board had a nice turn of phrase at the armouries the other night - "corporate memory". If it didn't happen last week, who remembers?

The RAF and RCAF carpet bombed the Third Canadian Division in Normandy in 1944, but because it did not happen during the lifetime of the current media talking heads, it may as well never have happened at all.

If the supposed keepers and purveyors of truth don't give a **** enough to keep this stuff straight, why would we expect DACs to?

It all goes back to teaching Social Studies instead of History in school. Cemeteries and half-assed ceremonies no one will watch is not the answer - education and upbringing are.

We can't afford to send mail to the troops in Afghanistan, but we can afford Guards of Honour 24/7 in military cemeteries?
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Posts: 272 | From: Calgary, Alberta | Registered: Aug 2000
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Spr Earl
Old Soldier
Member # 604
posted 27 April 2021 21:12
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Our Fellow Comrade's in Arm's died from by the hand's of an Allie and yes they had a great send off and yes many other's who served over sea's and died and never got the same may seem hypocritical to many.

But may be this is the turning point for the Canadian Public to realy start taking an interest in those who Serve their Country with out asking for praise our laurel's and to start questioning NDHQ and the Gov. as to our trial's and tribulation's as Peace keeper's and other Op.'s


UBIQUE

Be Safe
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Posts: 97 | Registered: Dec 2001
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