Canadian Veterans Are Too Dignified t...

Canadian Veterans Are Too Dignified to Ask You for Your Respect

Posted in the Halifax Forum

Jeffrey Alan Payne

Toronto, Canada

#1 Nov 7, 2013

Do you know how many Canadians have died in military conflict?

According to , touted as the “largest and most popular resource website on Canadian military”, here’s a summary of casualties during the last century:

• First World War: 66,665
• Second World War: 46,998 (1500 on D-Day at Juno Beach)
• Korean War: 516
• Peacekeeping Missions: 121
• Afghanistan Intervention: 158

That totals 114,458 lives lost. None of those conflicts were even instigated by Canadian interests. In each case the military stepped up to a call of duty that resonated from across the planet.

In looking for individual stories of wars’ mortal consequences, there are not that many resources to reference. You’ll find the story of Gander, a Newfoundland dog who served as a mascot to the Royal Rifles of Canada, stationed on Hong Kong Island. On one occasion, Gander protected some injured Canadian soldiers by charging a group of Japanese troops on patrol and diverting their attention. He was credited with saving their lives.

Gander’s final act of courage happened during Battle of Lye Mun. During an attack, a grenade landed in the foxhole occupied by a group of Canadian personnel. Gander grabbed the grenade ran away with it. The grenade exploded, instantly killing Gander, but sparing all human lives. That story is mentioned on nearly 2000 websites.

One troop was made notable because she inspired The Trews to write the song “Highway of Heroes”. Captain Nichola Kathleen Sarah Goddard was from the band’s hometown of Antigonish, Nova Scotia. She became the first female Canadian combat soldier killed in battle and the 16th Canadian soldier lost in Afghanistan.

Summarily, there are remarkably few sites that offer specific stories of Canadian military heroism.

It’s obviously not glory, notoriety or gratitude that our fighting men and women seek, and it’s certainly not a promise of financial reward. According to Veterans Affairs Canada, the family of a slain soldier receives a one-time, tax-free amount of $298,587.97 paid to a spouse or common-law partner and dependent children when a Canadian Forces member dies while in service. That might buy a very modest bungalow in East York. Disabled veterans are compensated a one-time, tax-free cash award of $298,587.97. It is paid in 5% increments, up to a maximum of 100%.

Since 1947, the Canadian Forces have completed 72 international missions. At this moment, more than 3,600 soldiers, sailors and Air Force personnel are deployed overseas on operational missions. On any given day, about 8,000 Canadian Forces members, including Royal Canadian Air Force, Royal Canadian Navy, and Canadian Army are preparing for, engaged in or are returning from an overseas mission.

If you ever have the opportunity to converse with a veteran, you probably won’t know it. Most of them really don’t talk about their military service. They were just doing their jobs, fulfilling the duties that they committed to perform.

The first Remembrance Day was conducted in 1919; it was originally called Armistice Day. Its significance was to commemorate the end of the First World War on Monday, November 11, 1918, at 11 am, the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

This year, at 11 am on November 11th, why not shut off your phone for a minute and reflect upon how good your life is? Before that, buy a poppy. If only one veteran sees you walking down the sidewalk, wearing that poppy and thinks,“I was only doing my job, but thank you. It’s great to realize that the people in my homeland, whose way of life I volunteered to protect, appreciate my sacrifice.”

In that case, you’ve accomplished an important mission too.

(You can purchase The Trews song “Highway of Heroes” on iTunes. The band donates net proceeds to the Canadian Hero Fund, an organization that assists veterans and their families, or donate at .)

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