Posted by Mark Bossi (M.A. Bossi, Esquire) from Toronto Ontario Canada on May 25, 2021 at 12:07:35:
In Reply to: Re: Unknown Soldier posted by Mark Bossi on May 25, 2021 at 11:19:56:
PUBLICATION The Ottawa Sun - DATE Thu 25 May 2021
SECTION/CATEGORY Comment - PAGE NUMBER 14
BYLINE BY MARK BONOKOSKI, OTTAWA SUN
TIME HAS MADE THOSE WHO FOUGHT AND DIED A SINGLE
THEY NEVER MADE IT BACK; THE NAME OF THE SOLDIER WHO WILL COME TO REST IN CANADA'S TOMB OF THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER IS UNIMPORTANT; THE PASSAGE OF
After 83 years in a foreign land, he is finally coming home today -- whoever he might be. A farm hand from Saskatchewan, perhaps. A young bank clerk from Ontario. A school teacher from Manitoba.
Only God knows for sure, it is said.
Go to the war memorial at Vimy in France and you will find, inscribed on the ramparts of the monument, the names of 11,285 Canadian soldiers who were posted as "missing, presumed dead" after the historic World War I battle to reclaim this strategic ridge from the Germans.
He is one of those.
Pick a name. Pick any name; pick all names.
Each belongs to a hero, Collectively, it has been written, they provided Canada with a sense of nationhood.
They gave it pride.
In a mission deemed impossible, Canada did what France failed twice to do and what the British failed to do once -- which was capture Vimy Ridge, the German Army's strongest position in the war and a position which allowed it to control the important coal fields beyond.
Canada's soldiers, young men from all parts of our country, and with just as varied backgrounds, pushed the enemy line back almost 5 km, took out 124 machinegun nests and captured 4,000 German prisoners.
Eighty-three years later, we're finally bringing one of these boys home -- whoever he might be.
In a ceremony long overdue, the remains of that unknown soldier, removed earlier this morning from an unmarked grave in Vimy, France, will arrive here this afternoon in a Canadian Forces jet and then be taken to their final resting place -- the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Until Sunday's committal ceremony at the National War Memorial, the casketed remains will lie in state in the Hall of Honour on Parliament Hill.
In what may come as a surprise to many, Canada has never had its own Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, despite gallant and honourable military service going back to the Boer War.
We somehow allowed the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in London to represent Canada and the Commonwealth. But then, in 1993, the Australians broke ranks and repatriated one of their own to serve as an eternal reminder of their country's sacrifice.
Today, thanks to a millennium project by the Canadian Legion, Canada is finally following suit.
In Saskatchewan and Manitoba, provincial governments have, over the years, named some of their thousands of lakes, islands and rivers after native sons who died in the two world wars. All well and good, but not enough.
In northern Saskatchewan, up near the Northwest Territory border, for example, there is Lake Bonokoski, named after my father's first cousin, Daniel, an RCAF pilot officer from the small prairie town of Torquay who was shot down during a bombing mission over Berlin in January, 1944.
But at least he has a grave, a place where someone can go to say a prayer. And, unlike countless others, he actually has a grave with his name on it. In Berlin, in the British section of the war cemetery, Row K, Plot 9.
Come Sunday, so too will our Unknown Soldier have a place of his own.
During last year's Remembrance Day services here, there was no Silver Cross mother to lay a wreath in front of the Cenotaph, meaning there was finally no mother still living who had lost a son in World War II.
Instead, the wreath was laid by the mother of a Canadian peacekeeper who lost his life trying to keep warring factions in Europe apart.
This makes it no less tragic, of course, only different.
Time flies. The last world war was fought by our children's grandfathers and the words, "Lest we forget" are becoming more and more important with each passing year.
Yes, it is about time we welcomed home our Unknown Soldier, that young man from Anytown, Canada who left whatever he was doing in whatever part of our country to fight in a war an ocean away and then sacrifice his life so that someone else could have a better tomorrow.
The boomer generation, and its immediate predecessor, of course, have been the biggest benefactors. There are those collecting old age pensions today who never had to go to war -- something which could not be said of my father's generation or that of his own father.
At Vimy Ridge, our Unknown Soldier was obviously hardly alone -- as the 11,285 names of those "missing, presumed dead" will attest.
Which particular name was his doesn't really matter any more because, collectively, the passage of time has them fighting and dying as a single human force.
That's who our Unknown Soldier is.
He's everyone who never made it home.
BONOKOSKI IS SUN MEDIA'S NATIONAL AFFAIRS COLUMNIST; HIS E-MAIL ADDRESS IS [email protected]
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