Sunday, April 08, 2007


This long weekend is a very powerful time in many ways.....Easter, the 90th anniversary of Vimy, 6 Canadian soldiers killed today while on duty in Afghanistan. A tip of the hat and a warm and heart-felt thanks to all our young men and women serving in uniform. Perhaps if I can fumble through a couple examples, I may be able to give some expression to the debt of gratitude I feel toward the Canadian soldier.

While taking my history degree in Windsor, a professor tasked us with writing a paper on watershed battles in Canada's past. As a result, I found myself in the living room of a Mr. Johnston in Windsor, Ontario. Mr. Johnston was in his early 80s at the time, a veteran of Dieppe as well as the the Italian and European campaigns. Incredibly, this man had been wounded 4 times over the course of his service, yet refused to see himself sent back to Canada. I spent the entire afternoon speaking with the man, enthralled by his many stories. My 18 months of service in a Windsor reserve regiment paled in comparison with what he had to tell me, and there was much to tell. He displayed a dedication and spirit of selflessness so lacking in my own generation. I'm not sure how long I remained in that small living room, but I do know that after my conversation with him I was a changed man.

In my research specific to Vimy I also came across the name of a man from my home town who had fought there. James Robert Lowery was born in Campbellford, Ontario in 1884. He studied at Queen's and the University of Alberta and then became a member in the Alberta Legislature. He was called into service during the Great War. Serving as a Major with the First Canadian Mounted Regiment, he was wounded at Vimy Ridge on April 9, 1917. Major Lowery survived the war and died in 1956.

How can we really thank these people, who left there busy lives and went off to take up arms in a foreign land? I'm not really sure what I can say other than to give the last word to Mr. Lowery, hometown lad and hero:

"The greatness of Canada will not depend upon the number of her people, upon the quality of No. 1 Hard Wheat, or the fine Shorthorn cattle she raises, her greatness in the future will consist in the character of her people."

Character as displayed by people like Mr. Johnston, James Lowery and all who wear this country's uniform.


jennifer said...

Touching. Well said.