Remembering Canada's Heroes
November 11, a monumental date to all Canadians; Remembrance Day. Remembrance for the men and women who have served and continue to serve our country during conflict, war and peace. This year, 2014, marks 100 years since the declaration of war between the Axis and Allies. The Canadian War Museum has designed a beautiful resource for those interested in Canada's contributions in the First World War. They have brought together information in collaboration with pictures and objects from the war for public viewing. The Toronto Public Library Digital Archives also has a large collection of pictures from World War I and World War II.
The recent events in Ottawa have received nothing but an outpouring of support to Canadians worldwide. As the story unfolded in the following days, I could not resist feeling a sense of nationalism to be a part of such a great country amongst fellow Canadians who felt the same. The heroic acts of bravery by the Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers in light of our fallen soldiers, Cpl. Nathan Cirillo and Patrice Vincent brought a need to commemorate them.
Canadians have an interesting history, one which include acts of selflessness, heroics, perseverance, and struggle that would eventually shape our country. The following is just a small glimpse into some of the more interesting and exceptional Canadian people and events.
Isaac Brock is the best-known figure of the War of 1812. He is widely credited as the military leader who frustrated the United States in its ambition to invade and take over Canada. He was an interesting character such that when he faced a challenge to duel, he insisted the other man be a handkerchief's length away. His opponent was forced to back down. Brock survived family financial disaster and faced desertions and near-mutinies before his successful years commanding his regiment in Upper Canada. As military governor of the colony, he called up the militia to oppose the invading Americans and led his troops into the key Battle of Queenston Heights. He died in the Queenston battle, but his courage inspired his troops to victory -- and even brought tribute from his American foes.
After dragging her injured husband off the battlefield during the War of 1812, Laura Secord (1775-1868) was forced to house American soldiers for financial support while she nursed him back to health. It was during this time that she overheard the American plan to ambush British troops at Beaver Dams. Through an outstanding act of perseverance and courage in 1813, Laura walked an astonishing 30 kilometers from her home to a British outpost to warn Lieutenant James FitzGibbon. Despite facing rough terrain, the ever-present danger of being caught by American troops, and rather delicate encounters with Native forces, Laura reached FitzGibbon just in time for the British to prepare and execute an ambush on American military nearby, forcing the U.S. general to surrender. Laura lived a very long time, dying at the age of 93. In her lifetime the government never formally recognized her singular feat of bravery, and much controversy still envelopes her legacy.
Digging deep into shattering memories, General Dallaire has written a powerful story of betrayal, naïveté, racism and international politics. His message is simple and undeniable: “Never again.” When Lt-Gen. Roméo Dallaire received the call to serve as force commander of the UN intervention in Rwanda in 1993, he thought he was heading off on a modest and straightforward peacekeeping mission. Thirteen months later he flew home from Africa, broken, disillusioned and suicidal, having witnessed the slaughter of 800,000 Rwandans in only a hundred days.
William Avery Bishop "Billy Bishop" survived more than 170 air battles during World War I and was given official credit for shooting down seventy-two German aircraft. Experts on aerial warfare acknowledge that his relentless air fighting techniques and skills as a brilliant individualist and marksman were unique and his record unsurpassed. He was the first man in British military history to receive the Victoria Cross, the Distinguished Service Order, and the Military Cross in one ceremony. Eddie Rickenbacker, an American fighter ace once said, "Richthofen usually waited for enemies to fly into his territory; Bishop was the raider, always seeking the enemy wherever he could be found ... I think he's the only man I ever met who was incapable of fear." His three years at the Royal Military College were disastrous – an epic of rules broken and discipline scorned. He often admitted that his special method of landing wrecked more planes than he shot down. In the days when fliers could rightly think themselves heroes for just having the courage to go up in the rickety plans, Billy Bishop won the respect of comrades and enemies alike. He was one of the new breed of warriors who met the deadly challenge of air combat and made the airplane a decisive military weapon.
For those who are looking for reads about courage, survival, danger and resilience the following are a list of books acclaimed as truly inspiring and mesmerizing reads: