Remembrance Speech

Kinsmen Lodge Remembrance Ceremony 07 Nov 14

When I was a young naval officer, I served as Gunnery Director Officer aboard a destroyer.  One Summer I had the privilege of commanding the Honour Guard for a Command Inspection by the Admiral of the Fleet of the Royal Navy.  Every button polished, rapier gleaming, fit and strong and filled with zeal, I gave the salute.  The Admiral looked down and asked: “Why did you join the Navy?”  I looked him in the eye, and in a ringing voice declared: “To kill the enemies of my Queen, Sir!”  The Admiral smiled widely, patted me on the shoulder and said “Good lad!”

And I meant it.  I yearned to join that great belonging of shipmates put in harm’s way.  I ached to shout out “Y Battery, Engage!” and watch an enemy plane or ship burst into sudden, catastrophic, pieces.  I dreamt of having my own tales of the “pointy end” to tell with the other old salts.

I never got my war.  I missed out on the tales of heroism and endurance.  I missed out on watching my shipmates be torn apart by steel splinters, or burnt alive by bunker fuel ablaze on the sea.

I never had my chance to see new officers posted to my ship and wonder: How long will this one live?  Is there any point befriending someone likely to be dead in a week?

Those I loved and who loved me, never had the chance to comb the newspapers or listen raptly to the news, trying to glean some inkling of whether my ship had died and me with it.  They never had the joy of seeing two officers in full dress uniform walk to our house, check the address, and go next door to deliver their condolences to another family.

Canadian and Commonwealth soldiers, sailors, airmen, auxiliaries and partisans fought for liberty in the Great War, in the Second World War, Korea, Vietnam, Iran, Iraq, and now Afghanistan.  Whether in wartime, or as peacekeeping forces, our veterans served with heroism and determination.  Our civilians did their bit too: they made essential contributions by taking over factory or farming jobs to free up soldiers, sailors and airmen.  They produced the food and materiel the military needed to keep fighting.  They crewed merchant ships to make perilous supply runs through enemy-infested waters.  They were our eyes and ears along the coasts, watching for enemy invasion or infiltration.

Soldiers, sailors, and airmen from other countries served with the same heroism, determination, the same fear as did our own.  It is a sad truth that, no matter what the war is said to be about, the soldier on the ground, the sailor in his ship so small on a sea so vast, the airman in his fragile metal tube – they all have more in common with the “enemy” than they do with the people who decided to go to war.

They all want peace.

Some joined up gripped by idealism.  Some just to get a job.  But each made a vital contribution.

Many of our veterans never made it home.  Their widows and widowers, their parents and their children lost their futures together.  Some veterans returned, but came back with visible and invisible wounds.  Some of our elders now honour us with their presence at Kinsmen Lodge.

They were asked to make a sacrifice, to serve their country, to oppose their country’s enemies.  And they did so.  They expected little in return.

But we remember them.  We honour them. Not just once a year, or by wearing a poppy. We remember them every day. We honour them every day.

  1. Erling Akerberg
  2. Ken Berg
  3. Stephen Bird
  4. Mike Bjornerud
  5. Fred Brunner
  6. Benjamin Chang
  7. Cyril Clark
  8. Jean Crowther
  9. Frank Daniels
  10. Gurpaul Dhesi
  11. Alfonso DiCiccio
  12. Therese Duncan
  13. Irene Godmaire
  14. Ken Jones
  15. Leonard Legaree
  16. Gilbert Lobelson
  17. Eileen Mandau
  18. Thelma McPherson
  19. Neva Miller
  20. Eldene Morgan
  21. Chong Park
  22. Joanne Siep
  23. Simon Simonson
  24. Gerald Thompson
  25. Haldis Tubbs
  26. Ubhi Ujagar
  27. Brian Vicker
  28. Jhoon Woo

Thank you, our Kinsmen Lodge veterans, for making this world safer, freer, and more democratic.
We remember you.

We honour you.

 

 

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