This past week we were supposed to have a guest speaker talk to the cadets.
The CO asked me to give my War Memorials lesson to the whole cadet corps.
So I brushed up my Powerpoint slides and started talking about cenotaphs and memorials and tried to weave some history into it.
With the big Vimy Ridge Canadian National Monument I talked about 1st Canadian Corps fighting together for the first time on a freezing rainy Easter Sunday in 1917. For regimental monuments I showed the Royal Newfoundland Regiment's haunting memorial at Beaumont-Hamel and told them about the death of an island's best and brightest and along with them, hopes for independence. For more local examples we looked at the Sherman tank preserved in a nearby park as a monument to the 1st Hussars armoured regiment and I told them about Black Sunday and la Mesnil-Patry.
Then I told them about La Place Gerard Dore and a boy, who could have been a cadet in my class every Tuesday night, who joined Les Fusiliers Montreal and went to France in 1944 to die at Verrieres Ridge before his 17th birthday. I always get choked up with that one.
I had lots of time to fill so I launched into an expanded version of my Royal Canadian Regiment history; a young nation's birth pains and the First Nations brief defiance, Imperial adventure on hot South African plains, the death struggles of Empires in the trenches of the Western Front, the heat and dust of Sicily and the mud and cold of the Moro River and Ortona. Korea and the Cold War and Afghanistan.
I don't know if the cadets were thinking of any of this during the silence at today's parade, but it gave me something to think about.
This first video I just saw this year, and I like the parallels it draws between WW1, WW2, Korea and Afgahanistan. The more things change, the more they stay the same it seems.
And I've always liked this song by one of my favourite bands, honouring the "Blue Puttees" (The Royal Newfoundland Regiment).
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