(Warning: I've cut and pasted an article, since I thought it was interesting ... and not everybody subscribes to this newspaper)
Presently, the Canadian Forces is suffering from a recruiting shortfall. Some blame the economic climate, while others point an accusatory finger at the pattern of self-denigration we've been subjected to by the CDS and MND, for example. Underlying all of this is the concern that this shortfall in recruiting may be symptomatic of a lack of support from the Canadian populace (at least, amongst those who are the right age to enlist).
If you are interested, here's an article that "bucks" this trend:
Tribute to war sacrifice
Spontaneous act by civilian among those honoured with medals
Ralph Piercey gave his life so Ilsabey Siemens could live hers. Almost 55 years later, she had a chance to pay tribute to his sacrifice.
Siemens was the only civilian to be given a certificate of appreciation by the Royal Montreal Regiment in an awards ceremony held in Westmount Park yesterday.
Amid the hullabaloo of the annual family-day celebrations, Canadian Forces peacekeeping medals were awarded to veterans from the Korean War and more recent United Nations peacekeeping missions in such hot spots as Bosnia, East Timor and Ethiopia. Siemens was honoured for giving Ken Piercey the chance to visit his brother's grave for the first time.
"I think people like you make our country a far better place to live in," Lt.-Col. George Petrolekas told Siemens during the awards presentation, in which he also received a medal for his service as a UN peacekeeper.
Petrolekas said it's important to acknowledge the efforts made, by civilians like Siemens and by military personnel, to create awareness of the hardships honourees have endured.
Often, memories mean more than medals.
"The things that stay with you ... are the things you've seen and tasted," Petrolekas said.
For Siemens, taste dominates her wartime memories.
Ken Piercey and Siemens met in 1999 when he was selling Remembrance Day poppies. When she learned his brother had died during the liberation of the Netherlands in World War II, and that Ken Piercey had never had a chance to visit his brother's grave, she made a spontaneous decision.
With the help of her sister in the Netherlands, and a Dutch organization called Thank You Canada, Siemens paid for Piercey and his girlfriend's flight to the Netherlands the following April, where the couple stayed in pre-arranged, pre-paid accommodations. It was a gesture fueled by Siemen's own memories of the liberation.
"At that age I was only interested in food," Siemens, now 63, said, adding that she had to eat boiled tulip bulbs before the liberation because food was so scarce.
When the Canadian soldiers arrived, they bore gifts that Siemens, 7 years old at the time, really appreciated.
"We just stood there staring at them, and they gave us chocolate and cookies," she said. It was her gratitude for all their effort that led her to talk to Piercey that day.
"I guess it was meant to be that I bumped into him at that time.
"I feel very happy that I could do a little bit in return for what they did for me," she said. "So many died."
Others at the ceremony also witnessed war deaths first-hand. Jean Guy Boucher, 68, a Korean War veteran honoured for his service from 1951 to 1952, vividly remembers seeing his friends die.
"We were all scared," he said, recalling a time when he was 17, pinned down in a rice paddy for three hours.
In spite of the hardships he endured, he has fond memories of the people he met and fought for. "I have a lot of respect for the Korean people," he said.
Some memories even drew a few smiles.
As the Korean War veterans were dismissed to enjoy the reception at the armoury, they marched in near-perfect unison.
"They still remember to turn right," Boucher said with a laugh. "How about that."
- Lisa Yeung can be reached at (514) 987-2228 or by E-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org