Sunday, May 10, 2009

Ducimus

Ducimus is Latin for "We Lead." It's also the motto of the Royal Canadian Infantry Corps with whom my son, will be an Officer after just one more year of training. Shortly after this post, Jeffrey and I discussed the possibility of writing a guest blog post for me, about how he views Canada's involvement in Afghanistan. He agreed, and that post appears below. The photos, as usual, are mine.

I promised my Mom that I would write a little something about Afghanistan and what it means to be a Canadian soldier. I will not go into the specifics of the mission, but I encourage people to take the time to educate themselves about the mission in which our soldiers are involved. So here is my take on Afghanistan and being a soldier.



In just over a year’s time, I will graduate from the Royal Military College of Canada. When I do, I will have the honour and the privilege of leading some thirty or so of Canada’s finest men and women. Every day, I put on my uniform and proudly wear the Canadian flag on my shoulder because I believe in this country and everything it represents.





People sometimes ask me why Canadians are fighting in Afghanistan and it is a difficult question to answer because there is no single response. As a country, we are in Afghanistan because Canadians, through our elected representatives, have decided that it is in our country’s best interests to be there. As individuals, soldiers have many reasons for wanting to go. Most soldiers, myself included, believe whole-heartedly in the mission and given the chance, would be there without a moment’s hesitation.

Earlier this year I attended a briefing with a couple hundred of my fellow aspiring officers, and the question “Who wants to go to Afghanistan?” was posed. There was not one person whose hand did not immediately shoot into the air. I want to go to Afghanistan because I believe that I can play a part in making it a safer and more developed country. Canada’s combat mission in Afghanistan is set to end in 2011, so I may not get the opportunity to serve there, but I know that there will always be someplace where I will be able to help make a difference.





Living in Canada, it is easy to forget that the world is a very unpleasant place for many people, and that unfortunately, there will always be a need for soldiers like myself. As a country, we have an obligation, not only to protect ourselves and our interests, but to help the rest of the world become a better place. I have great faith in Canadians with our morals and values to choose the right missions for the Canadian military. I know that wherever I am sent, I will be there to do good, and to promote those values.



In Afghanistan, 117 Canadian soldiers have given their lives for their country. I sometimes hear people say that these lives have been ‘wasted’ and, I have to say, this angers me. Each and every one of those men and women died fighting for something that they believed in. Wasted implies that these lives were given carelessly and without thought or purpose. This is not the case.




When I will eventually lead my soldiers in operations, I know that I will be putting them at risk. I think that my biggest fear is that I will have to send one of my soldiers home in a casket. They will know that I am going do everything in my power to make sure that every single one of them comes home alive, but at the end of the day, bullets still fly two ways and that risk can never be eliminated. They know this, but they are still willing to take that risk because they believe in what they are doing. That is what it means to be a Canadian soldier. They take those risks willingly so that others won’t have to.

To those who have made the ultimate sacrifice - Rest Easy.

Ducimus

Thank you, Jeffrey for writing this guest post for me. You know how profoundly proud I am of you. Stick around for comments!

The image below was inspired by a series of photos I saw in an elementary school hallway on Saturday. It showed the faces of every child in the school, done in a mosaic-like artwork. When stepping back from it, you could see that the individual faces made up the Canadian flag. This is a far less sophisticated rendition of that idea. The faces you see in are those of our 117 Canadian soldiers who lost their lives in the line of duty in Afghanistan. The words are the lyrics to our National Anthem in both English and French. You can see the names of these courageous soldiers here and here. Please click on the image to enlarge it.


54 comments:

the Bag Lady said...

Hilary - love your photos, and the montage of soldiers who died serving their country is heart-rendingly touching!

Jeffrey - thank you so much for writing this post. It is wonderful to hear from someone who is willing to make sacrifices for something he believes in! This was very eloquently written, and I salute you for wanting to serve this great country of ours. May you always be safe in your endeavours.

Frank Baron said...

Jeffrey and Hil - I salute you both.

Seamus said...

Jeffery ~ Well written and beautifully stated.

Protege said...

Beautiful post, Jeffrey has the same talent in writing as his mom.
He has chosen a very honorable path in life. I am sure you must be very proud of your son, Hilary.:)
xo

Russell said...

Very inspiring. You, Jeffrey, write extremely well. You express your thoughts clearly and succinctly - a most desirable trait for any writer.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. was a Supreme Court justice here in the United States for many years. He wrote all his opinions while standing up and believed in writing to the point. His writings are still often quoted today. Your writing style reminds me of his -- and that is a high compliment.

Please know I have the greatest respect for you and your fellow soldiers.

Take care and thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.

Tabor said...

Thank you Jeffrey for taking the time share this with us. Thank you Hillary for being brave enough to allow him to do so. Thank you Canada for being such good and faithful friends.

Mental P Mama said...

I salute you for your bravery and for Canada's partnership. May you be safe and well in your service.

Leah J. Utas said...

Thank you for your post, Jeffrey. And thank you for what you are doing for us.

JC said...

Great post. Jeffrey, may God bless you in ways you can't even imagine for your service to your country.

Hillary, Love the photos and the soldiers picture was awesome. Also, I love the Racoon Part 2 post complete with pictures.

Shammickite said...

Jeffrey, you write about your chosen career and your hopes and fears with great eloquence.
I respect everyone who serves his or her country in any branch of military service. I myself served in the "T.A." in England,... a version of the Militia... and enjoyed every minute. But that was a game, and this is the real thing. But I still think that Canada's basic role should be concentrated on peacekeeping, rather than warfare. However, I fully support our soldiers, wherever out government decides to send them.
Hilary, thank you for that Maple Leaf Flag with the portraits of our lost heroes, a very touching tribute to our brave man and women in Afghanistan.

Suldog said...

Very well-written. If I were a soldier, I would be proud to have a leader such as yourself. And, as an American, I am amazingly grateful to my Canadian brothers and sisters who join with our military on so many missions. Thank you!

nikina said...

wow...great post !!! and the pics are great as well :)

addhumorandfaith said...

Thank you, Jeffrey, and God bless you. You are exactly the kind of person who makes the world a safer place.

I have said a prayer today for you and all those Canadians who serve with you and who love freedom enough to put themselves in harm's way to assure it.

kcinnova said...

Jeffrey, you are a true leader and a blessing to both your mother and your country. Your words ring very familiar to this soldier's wife.

Hilary, as always, your photographs are incredible, but your montage goes beyond incredible. I am sure a published/printed version would bless the families of each of those soldiers and inspire present and future military leaders.

Reb said...

Jeffrey, that was a great post. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.

Hilary, lovely photos and the montage is beautifully rendered.

Daryl said...

Jeffrey, thank you for the post, the insight and for your service not just to Canada but 'working' to bring peace (with all its trappings, like education and healthcare) to Afghanistan.

Such a mensch!

Tricia said...

Jeffrey, thank you for this wonderful post and for sharing with us your thoughts and conviction. I can see why your mom is so proud.

SandyCarlson said...

I appreciate this guest post very much. Beautiful writing from the heart. Thanks.

Lover of Life said...

You have every reason to be proud. Thank you so much for your side of the story, as it was eloquent and well said. As an American, thank you for your support and friendship to the US.

Hilary said...

Very wise young man you have there.
Nice post.

I just read your raccoon post, the last one. I very much enjoyed that one too...

blunoz said...

Jeffrey - Very well written and thank you for your courage and commitment to serve your country with honor.

Hilary - Excellent photos to accompany Jeffrey's post. It's apparent why you are so proud of Jeffrey. Keep up the good work - both as a mentor to your son and as a photographer. :-)

scarlethue said...

Good luck to you Jeffery, and thank you Hilary for asking him to write this. We all need to be reminded of the sacrifices soldiers are asked to bear. As much as I know Jeffery wants to serve, I hope the war ends peacefully before he can get there!

photowannabe said...

What a wonderful son and his passion and eloquence are so evident. You can be proud of your son and proud that Canada will be in such capable hands.

Hilary said...

Jeffrey will probably add his comment acknowledgments as his time permits. Until then, thank you all very much for you ultra kind words. They're very much appreciated. :)

Sandi McBride said...

My Dear Jeffrey...this was so well written and beautifully put forward. I know that your mother is proud of you. Please know that you and all your comrades and all soldiers involved in the Mission are in our prayers, every night...and even after you return safely home, you will still be remembered in our prayers...we may not know each name, but we will honor the cause, trusting God to know who we mean.
Sandi

Pat - Arkansas said...

Jeffrey: Your thoughts are wonderfully expressed. May God bless and protect you and your military brothers and sisters. Thank you all for your service.

Hilary: You have every reason to be proud of your son.

Dianne said...

You made me tear up Jeffrey with your wise beyond your years words and your incredible committment to what you believe.

You're an exceptional young man.

Hilary - he's wonderful! what a Mom you are :)

Cheffie-Mom said...

Blessings to you Jeffrey. This is a beautiful and well written post. Thank you for all you do.

ds said...

Jeffrey--thank you so much for writing this post. Your eloquence moved me to tears. You will do your soldiers, your country, and your family proud. May you always be strong--and may you always be safe.

Hilary--there are many forms of bravery, most of it unsung. Thank you for this.

Redbush said...

I have only respect for young men like your son. Without them, we wouldn't be where we are today. More young people, and old, should hear his views on his mission so that they wouldn't be so quick to criticize their work. Thanks again, Jeffrey for giving us your input and another reason for us to believe in the soldiers and their mission in Afghanistan.

Redbush said...

Great photos, Hilary! Best of luck, Jeffrey and thanks again for sharing your thoughts with us. Stay safe.

Anonymous said...

Jeffrey - What a great heartfelt post. It is good to read your reasons for being a soldier and your thoughts on the mission. Your mother and I are both very proud of you and a bit apprehensive at the same time as I think any parent of a soldier would be. Thanks for the post. Great pics too Hil! I especially like the picture of that handsome young man walking up the stairs.

love
dad

jesusisdabomb said...

Hey man I wanted to say that that is awesome and that I really respect you for wanting to go there to make a difference. Here in the world that is something that seems to be severely lacking. I can only wish that more people had your more "other centered" mindset instead of the "me myself and I" mindset. Much love.

Lawstude said...

wow. i am so proud of you.

david mcmahon said...

There are no easy answers, Jeffrey. As someone who had a direct family member in a combat zone in two wars, I salute you.

Crabby McSlacker said...

Great post, Jeffrey!

And Hilary, you must be so proud.

lime said...

thank you for having your son share his thoughts on the issue. it is fart more meaningful to listen to one who is involved than a bunch of talking heads on television wanting to spin something for their own purposes. may jeffrey and those he leads be kept safe and returned to the arms of those they love.

Indrani said...

It is something to read in newspapers, but definitely something more to read a first hand account, from some body who is directly involved in this.

Thanks Jeffery!

Merisi said...

Jeffrey,
thank you so much for your service and sharing your story with us!
I wish you and your fellow soldier good luck and Godspeed!
One of my brothers spent time on the Golan Heights as part of a UN-mission.

Thumbelina said...

A very well written post. Your pride and aspirations shine through your writing Jeffrey, and you have the same talent as your mum for writing. (I may not agree with the sentiments, but I admire your writing and your belief in what you do; and your willingness to stand up and be counted for what you believe in.)

The photos as always, Hilary, are magnificent and your pride for your son also shines through. The montage with your flag is beautifully done - very poignant.
Great post. Thank you both of you.

Jeffrey said...

Thank you everyone for your kind comments. I apologize for not being able to reply to your comments sooner. I very much appreciate all the good wishes and prayers you have given our soldiers and myself. Thank you for the compliments on my writing as well. I am glad that I could shre my perspective with you.

Russell: I hadn't heard of Oliver Wendell Holmes, but I looked him up and I am honoured to be compared to such a man.

Shammickite: It is always a pleasure working with the Brits. I'm glad you had a good time with the Territorials. Unfortunately, I think that the age of classic "blue helmet" peacekeeping died with the end of the Cold War. Conflicts are much more complex these days.

Suldog: Thank you for the vote of confidence. We are proud to count you Americans as allies and friends.

kcinnova: Thank you. I hope your husband always returns home safely.

Lover of Life: Thanks for the compliment. It is a pleasure to work with the U.S. forces. We do many exchanges and excercises together.

Jeffrey

Cheffie-Mom said...

I'm back again - Congrats to Jeffrey on the Post of the Day Award from authorblog!

MamaGeek @ Works For Us said...

Now these photos are so powerful they are jaw dropping Hilary. Nicely done.

The Things We Carried said...

Hilary, you have raised a man to be proud of. A man of valor, courage, and forethought. You must be ever so proud of him. I salute you, mom to mom. We know a place in mothering not every mother will travel.

I send my very best to your son and those he will lead. my son expects to be deployed to Afghanistan next spring. Our boys may be almost shoulder to shoulder in the same country. My heart will hold on for your boy to come home.

Marsha's Mpressions said...

To Jeffrey and your mom, Hilary, it does my heart good to read about young men who love their country and are willing to serve for others. My husband served in the national guard and my son-in-law now serves in the national guard of the US. My son-in-law is scheduled to serve in Iraq in Sept. I hate to see him go and leave his wife and child, but I am so proud of him for volunteering. Thank you for posting this and congrats on POTD!

Hilary said...

Thank you ALL so very much for your kindness and warmth. Your comments are very much appreciated. Thank you too, David for your post of the day mention.

Rajesh said...

Yes, it is often heard people saying "why these soldiers have to lay their lives for whose cause" I never before heard from the perspective from solider before. It is interesting to know what a solider really feels.

NJ said...

Your sons post has special meaning for me. A friend's son served over in Afghanistan for a time. And I've read a couple of books about Afghanistan. (The Kite Runner and Thousand Splendid Sons) You must be very proud of him.

Woman in a Window said...

I have complicated feelings in regards to the military but regardless of this, regardless of politics and world conditions, your son sounds like an amazing man. I wish him the best and hope for a safe career for him and many more loving times with your family. Thanks for sharing.

Hilary said...

Thanks ever so kindly, all. :)

Michelle H. said...

An inspiring post by you, Jeffrey. Not enough words can be expressed to your dedication. Thank you!

Elizabeth said...

A touching and lovely post.
I commend you for your sense of duty and sacrifice.
Well done!

Pouty Lips said...

Jeffrey,
I'm reading your post on Memorial Day - very fitting. I am at a loss for words other than to say "thank you" for your service.

Hilary,
The montage you created is amazing.

Hilary said...

Thanks to everyone for your warm and wonderful comments. Jeffrey is now in training for the summer and won't have internet access again until late August. I'm certain that he'll read each and every comment upon his return to school late summer. Thanks for supporting our troops!