6 November 2011

A Week of Remembrance. A soldier's life

The men Canada sent overseas to fight in distant wars had extraordinary records, did incredible things, beat the odds and did the impossible, time after time after time.  In the First World War, the Canadian Corps, alone of all units in the war, was undefeated.  The First  Canadian Army, fighting in the Second World War, had a string of hard fought battles clearing ports, and covering the northern flanks of the British and the Americans as they drove into Germany.  Canadians held off disaster in Korea, and kept peace in far off unlikely places.  Virtually all of these men, and now women too, were volunteers.  They come from no one place, no special part of our society, but represent all of it. They were and are our brothers and fathers, our sons and friends, joined now by our mothers and daughters and sisters.  They served us better than most living Canadians either know or deserve.  For all their stunning achievements, and the glory they brought upon themselves and their country, they were ordinary people.  Were it not for the wars and their deeds, we would not look at them twice, or recall their names.  Their wars done, they returned home and tried to go back to their ordinary lives.  Many never could.

it was the American Composer, Aaron Copland, who, inspired by the sight of ordinary Americans stepping forward to fight evil itself in the Second World War, who paid tribute to these troops in his music.  Instead of writing a piece for princes and kings, politicians and rich men, he wrote this piece,  The Fanfare for the Common Man, in honour of the ordinary men whom, when all was darkest, shone the brightest of all generations. 

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