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Lest We Forget

Lest We Forget

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, Canadians are asked to pause in memory of the thousands of men and women who sacrificed their lives in military service.
Also known as Veterans Day in the U.S., Remembrance Day was first held throughout the Commonwealth in 1919. It marks the armistice to end the First World War, which came into effect at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, a year earlier.
Two minutes before the armistice went into effect, at 10:58 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1918, Pte. George Lawrence Price was felled by a bullet. Price would become the final Commonwealth soldier — and the last of more than 66,000 Canadians — to be killed in the First World War
They died fighting at Vimy Ridge, Hill 70, Passchendaele and Ypres — battles remembered for atrocious conditions and Canadian valour. In Ypres, Canadian soldiers were exposed to German gas attacks, yet continued to fight, showing amazing tenacity and courage in the face of danger.
In many ways, the identity of the young country was forged on those bloody battlefields.
About 650,000 Canadians and Newfoundlanders (the province then still a colony of Britain) had served during the war, beginning in 1914. The last Canadian veteran of the conflict — John Babcock — died in February 2010 at the age of 109.
After Babcock's passing, the federal government announced that it would hold a national commemorative ceremony on April 9 to honour all Canadians and Newfoundlanders who served during the First World War.
Between the declaration of the Second World War in September 1939 and the conflict's end in 1945, Canadians fought in Dieppe, Normandy, the North Atlantic, Hong Kong, during the liberation of Italy, and in many other important air, sea and land campaigns.
In total, more than one million men and women from Canada and Newfoundland served in the army, air force and navy. More than 47,000 did not come home.
Canadian troops played a crucial role — and made a mighty sacrifice — in the 1944 D-Day invasion and the Battle of Normandy, a major turning point in the war's Atlantic campaign. More than 5,000 were killed in the land invasion in France.
The Canadian Army went on to play a significant part in the liberation of the Netherlands, which ended in 1945. The Dutch, having suffered through an extremely harsh winter, enthusiastically greeted the Canadians and forged a strong friendship between the two countries that lasts to this day.
Since the end of the Second World War, Canadians have taken part in dozens of United Nations peacekeeping missions around the globe, from Cyprus and Haiti to Bosnia and Somalia. Troops have seen active combat as well.
In Korea, 26,791 Canadians served during a conflict that raged between 1950 and 1953. The battles of Hill 355 and Hill 187, among others, saw Canadians fighting in swamps and rice fields, through torrential rain and snow, in the air and at sea.
In 2003, Canada marked the 50th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice by unveiling the Monument to Canadian Fallen at Confederation Park in Ottawa. The words "We will never forget you brave sons of Canada" are inscribed at the base of the monument, which also contains the names of all Canadians who lost their lives in Korean War service or subsequent Korean peacekeeping service.
Canada has steadily increased its military involvement in Afghanistan since the Taliban regime fell in 2001.
By 2006, Canada had taken on a major role in the more dangerous southern part of the country as part of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).
The fighting grew fiercer, and the casualty count rose. By March 2010, 141 Canadian military personnel had died in the country. One Canadian diplomat, one journalist and two Canadian aid workers have also been killed.
Canada's contribution to the First and Second World Wars is recognized and remembered all over the United Kingdom, especially around Nov. 11. Among the ceremonies in 2009 was the unveiling of a historic mural at a hospital in Orpington, Kent.
The mural commemorates a once-famous hospital that was paid for by the people of Ontario.
In 1915, the Ontario government donated $2 million to build a treatment centre for soldiers wounded on the battlefields of France. It was a huge amount of money for the time, and the hospital became one of the most up-to-date in the world.
Fully staffed by Canadian doctors and nurses, the Ontario Military Hospital treated more than 25,000 badly injured soldiers between 1916 and 1919. The majority of patients were Canadian, but the hospital also saved the lives of soldiers from Britain, Newfoundland (then a British colony), Australia and New Zealand. Thanks to state-of-the-art treatment, just 182 patients died — less than one per cent of those admitted to the facility. Those who didn't make it are buried in what's know as "Canadian Corner," a graveyard in nearby All Saints Church.
One of the Canadian doctors who worked at the hospital was Thomas McCrae, brother of Joh



August 4, 2008
Flagstaff, Arizona
400 miles (3,500)

(please don't feel like you have to read this!)
On the move again. I just spent seven days in one general location, and I gotta say, it didn’t take seven days to make me antsy. Nevertheless, I had a hard time to pulling away from Santa Fe – both physically and emotionally. There were people still around Sunday morning with whom I’d forged fledgling relationships. Having stayed put for so long, I’d accumulated paper, and info, etc, and scattered my life about the room. So after a nice long organizational and packing period, and then a leisurely goodbye brunch, I didn’t move toward the road until after 1:00pm.
As I was flitting about, showering, packing, and getting in order, I noticed a field about 20 yards from my campsite. It was contained by a split-rail fence, filled with that rare covering of grass and decorated with horseshoe pegs, bike ramps and other sundry recreation happiness. I had not noticed that field in the seven days I’d been around. Granted, I’d come in very late every night, and left quite early. I had not explored the campground, but I do tend to notice things. Beyond my normal ability to see things, I had also been in a sort of training for taking it all in and pondering my surroundings. So I realized that I’d come to the site each night without regard for it’s delights. That is, beyond the outrageous night sky with its backlit milkyway swath spanning the entire sky, it’s Jupiter shining brightly as the moon, its dependable consistency of shooting stars, and its nocturnal constant call of coyotes.
I set about taking in everything I encountered as I rode off toward Albuquerque, where I’d turn West and follow the legendary Route 66 to Flagstaff. The Sandias shone their normal brilliance as I neared Albuquerque, and when my attention turned right, I was confronted with ominous cloudage. Nothing new, I’ve been dealing with this eastern normality everyday since I’ve left home, but I seem to have brought it with me to the normal arid southwest, where I’ve given much appreciated drinks to the landscape, even as I feel the water being sucked out of my body.
When I entered Arizona again, seven days after I’d skirted its northwest corner for a half hour, I was confused when I stopped at the welcome center to dry out and armor myself against the increasingly foreboding storm clouds, and found it to be an hour earlier than I thought it was, though the sky and dim cloud covered light seemed to indicate I was correct. It took me several hours to remember that Arizona does not appreciate daylight savings time. So I’d gained an hour, but only in theory. No extra daylight.
The extra hour did forgive my late departure, and afforded me a long, slow ride through the Painted Desert and Petrified forest, where frankly I was quite surprised. As the park ranger had promised, the dampness I was encountering was a small price for the extra beauty it bestowed on the landscape. Extremely dark eastern skies framed the badlands with colorful desert foliage, all dimly spotlit from a beautiful, if struggling, sunset. Lightning accented the background, and the rain on the formations sent out a glow of gorgeosity.
I must admit, that when I entered the park at the last possible moment, I realized that I was definitely low on fuel due to the beating high winds and but irresponsibly opted to chance the ride with my remaining gasoline fumes. Through the gate, my odometer read 100 miles, and I had 47 miles to the next fuel stop. I went on reserve at 106 miles and was sure I’d never make it out on my bike. I was careful to do the 28 park miles at 35 mph, and the 19 wilderness miles at 50, despite the 65mph speed limit.
I rolled into Holbrook and added 3 more miles before I found fuel. I filled my tank with 3.98 gallons, the most I’ve ever used. I guessed that .02 gallon must be equivalent to a teaspoon. I literally could not have made it to the next street corner. I sighed, sat quietly behind the station and thanked God for bringing back to civilization via motorized propulsion rather than by foot, through the desert, through the chilly rain, in the dark.
When I climbed back on in Holbrook, I had 90 miles to travel to Flagstaff, in the dark. The storms became more fierce for this last leg, and pelted me the entire way. I reached my campsite chilled to the bone and quite tired. I set up the tent, crawled in and lay there in the Arizona gravel listening to the rain hit the tent and pondered the beauty of decay.

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