Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Military Picture of the Week: Odd Man Out

One of those three Grenadier Guardsmen is actually a cake, which may be the strangest thing I’ve ever written on this blog.



The cake is to celebrate the start of the British Legion’s annual Poppy Campaign.  More info here.




Thursday, October 23, 2014

Canada Gets Back Up

This image from today’s Halifax Chronicle Herald captures how I and many Canadians are feeling today.   In the four days since I posted a picture of my visit to the Ottawa War Memorial, there have been two attacks on Canadian Armed Forces personnel.   On Monday a Regular Force RCAF Warrant Officer was killed in a Montreal parking lot by a by would be jihadist who mowed him down with his car, and yesterday an Army Reservist was shot and mortally wounded while part of the ceremonial guard mount at one of our country’s most honoured (and, in a secular sense of the word) sacred places.   The gunman then went on to Parliament Hill, and in a video that I still find surreal, died in a gun battle, shot by our Parliament’s Sergeant of Arms, an ex-RCMP officer, who is today an undisputed national hero.  

What to make of this?   It’s too early to say, but members of the Canadian Armed Forces, still enjoying the public approval from their role in Afghanistan, will be struggling (as I am) with the perceived loss of pride and identity in being told not to wear their uniforms in public.   Hopefully that order will be lifted by Remembrance Day, and we can pay our respects to the old and newly fallen as we should, but we now have to think about security issues in our own country.  In that sense, while there is some in his piece yesterday that I disagree with, journalist Glenn Greenwald does make a good point.  Canada has been at war for thirteen years, ever since our troops first went to Tora Bora in Afghanistan, and while we’ve refurbished our military prestige and pride following the dark years and moral failures of the 1990s, we have been complacent.  We never thought that our enemies would strike us here.  We assumed that either we were too small to be an important target to Bin Laden and his followers, or that if homegrown extremists tried, then our security services would catch them, because they all seemed pretty inept.   Now, in three days, we can’t afford those misguided assumptions.  

I hope we don’t slide into a security state mentality like our southern neighbours have.   Their post 9/11 habit of replacing that lovely and historic word of liberty, “America”, with “Homeland”, which to my mind hearkens back to 19th century European “blood and volk" nationalism, is unfortunate, but that’s just my opinion.   I hope that Parliament will reopen to visitors soon, although I suspect that visitors will have to go through metal detectors and other security measures.  It’s still our Parliament, and should remain so.   The National War Memorial will take on a new significance, to be sure, and there will be new resolve to fight against ISIS and forces like it, even if it’s still unclear whether these attacks of the last tree days were jihadist ordered, jihadist inspired, or just copycat violence by mentally fragile and angry loners.  As a former Commanding Officer of mine said yesterday, if we were complacent and ambiguous about the Syria deployment last week, now Canadians will be resolved, and military history shows that when we are angry, we punch above our weight.   

The most encouraging thing for me yesterday was hearing that the Ottawa Police, with parts of the capital still in lockdown, sent this message out to the city’s Muslim community.  If you feel unsafe, or threatened, let us know and we’ll protect you.   If that virtue of Canadian solidarity and tolerance makes it through the days to come unscathed, then we’ll be alright.

God bless and protect all those who serve and protect our country, whatever uniform they wear.





Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Military Picture Of The Week

I took these two pictures at the National War Memorial on a chilly noon in Ottawa this last Sunday.   As part of the anniversary of the start of the First World War, the three branches of the Canadian Armed Forces are mounting a guard there during (I believe) daylight hours.   When I visited it was the Army’s turn.   These young soldiers were standing guard at the front of the memorial, facing down Elgin Street, and on the far side, facing Parliament Hill, a piper was playing.   The turnout of these lads was immaculate and their bearing was every inch the soldier.   If you find yourself in Ottawa in November it’s worth a visit.




Friday, October 17, 2014

How Do You Like Them Apples?


Kay and I just returned from the Berkeley Springs region of West Virginia, where we spent a week with her siblings. Since we were the advance party, we got to sample some local culture, including the kickoff parade of the local Apple Butter Festival.   Who knew there were so many apples?  Extra marks for identifying the types of apples represented here.

I have some more photos to post when I get back from a conference happening this weekend.


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Notable Quotable: "I Couldn't Care Less If Jackie Was Technicolor"

Yesterday’s New York Times carried the obituary of George Shuba, the man shown below shaking the hand of Jackie Robinson, the first black player in professional baseball, when they both played for the Montreal Royals .  The Royals were the farm team of the Brooklyn Dodgers.   

On April 18, 1946, Robinson hit a home run in the Royals’ season opener against the Jersey Giants.   Shuba went to the plate to shake Robinson’s hand as he finished rounding the bases.   Sixty years later, Shuba would say:  “I couldn’t care less if Jackie was Technicolor.   As far as I was concerned, he was a great ballplayer - our best.   I had no problem going to the plate to shake his hand instead of waiting for him to come by me in the on-deck circle."

 Shuba and Robsinon both went on to the major leagues, where Shuba had a respectable performance before returning to his home town of Yougstown, Ohio, where he worked as a postal clerk.  He would probably have been forgotten to history had it not been for this picture, but I’d have to say that he was, in his own way, one of the greats.

Sadly this moment occurred at Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City.  It would have been a great Canadian moment had it occurred in Montreal, a time in Robinson’s career that was sadly overlooked in the recent biopic “42”.


Mad Padre

Mad Padre
Opinions expressed within are in no way the responsibility of anyone's employers or facilitating agencies and should by rights be taken as nothing more than one person's notional musings, attempted witticisms, and prayerful posturings.


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