To the editor;
While one must appreciate the efforts of national defence to safeguard our armed-forces personnel from the harm inflicted by radicalized, homegrown jihadists (or, in some cases, people with illness and too much time to surf the web), telling Canadian soldiers to not wear their uniforms in public seems like a knee-jerk reaction.
If the prime minister maintains these recent attacks on our soil will not deter our resolve, then our armed-forces personnel should proudly wear their uniforms in Canada as they do abroad and within bases.
We do not hide. We remain vigilant.
There is another consideration to the wearing of that military uniform — continued public support.
Canadian civilians have, and have had, a somewhat detached relationship with our military.
We never seem to be quite sure of what to make of it and Canadian armed-forces administration has only served to further the disconnect.
During and after the Iraqi and Afghanistan campaigns, I noted in myself and others a greater respect for our military personnel.
Sure, it was there before, but it was more dormant. We had embraced Lester Pearson’s concept of international peacekeeping, not bloodletting.
I bought my poppy, wore it and stopped for a moment of silence, but generally equated the military more or less with my father’s experiences during the Second World War and with the Middle East; hence my personal sense of disconnect.
With news articles related to the poor treatment of our vets, post-traumatic stress disorder, the reported poor state of preparedness and lack of equipment, you felt sorry for them and wondered who would want to enlist with these reported poor conditions prevailing.
Yet, people still did and continue to do so.
Working on McGill Road and passing the armoury every day for the past 14 years, I sense a slow and welcome change.
I think now in the early morning — when I chance by a training group heading out as I head to my comfortable office — that I continue to enjoy my freedoms, my Canada, because they are there.
It does not matter that our military footprint is small. It does not matter that our comrades to the south have the largest and most technologically advanced military in the world.
They are not us.
We may disagree with the politics.
We may disagree with the campaigns being waged. They are separate issues resolved at the ballot box.
Our troops still do their duty.
Those armed-forces personnel I chance by, whom I will never know, may be maimed or killed so we can continue to enjoy everything we take for granted.
I am more apt now to tip my hat and sound my horn in the pouring rain as they trudge by. I buy their coffee at Tim Hortons when the opportunity is provided and I say thank you. I cannot do very much, but I can show my support — and so should you.
This year, wear your poppy early in honour of not only those who have fallen in the past, but for Cpl. Nathan Cirillo and Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent.
I’m sure they were good people senselessly killed by cowards on our soil.
From the centennial of the First World War to the recent tragedies in Quebec and Ontario, remember again this wonderful country, province and city were, to some extent, born out of the hardships of those individuals who remain proud to count themselves as armed-forces personnel.’
Like the bumper sticker says — if you don’t stand behind our troops, feel free to stand in front.