(Volume 25 Issue 5)
By Dave W. Palmer
In reflection, I think of our ancestors, the many thousands of Canadians that in the spirit of service for their nation did what was needed when called upon to protect and defend our country our freedoms and the democratic principles that are far too often taken for granted. Our former sisters and brothers-in-arms who volunteered to serve were acknowledged and recognized by the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal (CVSM). Since that time thousands of young men and women did exactly the same thing as those that served before them and took up the torch of service and dedicated a portion of their lives to uphold the same rights and freedoms as those that served before.
Sadly, on March 1st, 1947, they did away with the CVSM and the tradition of acknowledging and honouring volunteer service by our comrades. Our fellow veterans were no longer recognized. The tradition of honouring the act of volunteerism and treating new volunteers to serve in Canada’s Armed Forces was nixed by the government leaving a gaping hole in the heritage of those that did exactly the same thing as those serving in the past. Since March of 1947, our nation and our government has done little to recognize the loyalty and dedication to one’s country when Canadians elect to join our country’s armed forces. This leaves a huge void, an abyss of forgetfulness when it comes to Canadians that have done what most will never do, to volunteer to serve in the military. Why would we not honour our veterans in the same manner as their forefathers, foremothers and ancestors were honoured with a medal for volunteering?
Not a single person knew what might happen to them when they enlisted and prepared to dedicate a portion of their lives by service in the military. The world was on edge back in the 1940’s as the Manhattan Project created a working atom bomb. Not long after, the Americans used two of these nuclear bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima in Japan and that quickly brought an end to WW II. It was not long before Russia obtained this capability and the Cold War erupted. Nonetheless, with nuclear annihilation as a potential weapon, our youth, (now ageing veterans and many more of our comrades that passed away) still continued to volunteer to serve with pride, dignity and honour. For many, who served and did so honourably, they left the military in the pursuit of other interests, yet for their service, they were never once acknowledged or honoured in the same manner as those before them … with a medal.
Our world seems at times to be going crazy with terrorism and renewed sabre rattling by the big nuclear powers. North Korea sends missiles over Japan and threatens the Americans with nuclear strikes. Sadly, the recent act of criminal outrage in Toronto showed our nation how insanely dangerous things can be. Still, our Canadian youth continue to volunteer to serve and this says a lot about their courage and character. Thousands of veterans have served since the cessation of the CVSM and have not a thing to show for that service. Nothing by way of having a family heirloom to leave their children as a testament to the legacy of having a family member who once served their nation.
I truly believe that the same honour and dignity that was afforded to our ancestors is surely warranted to our veterans of the past century, yesterday, today and tomorrow. Veterans from the past and today and into the future will continue to volunteer and to serve our great nation so that we may continue to all stand together. In light of fairness and equality for their service and the acknowledgement by the CVSM, our veterans have served and should not be treated any different than their comrades that served before them.