Friday, February 19, 2010

The Last but not forgotten

The last living Canadian World War I veteran, John Babcock, has passed away at the age of 109.

From Prime Minister Stephen Harper:

"On behalf of all Canadians, I would like to extend my sincere condolences to Mr. Babcock's family and friends. As a nation, we honour his service and mourn his passing," Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a statement. "John Babcock was Canada's last living link to the Great War, which in so many ways marked our coming of age as a nation. In honouring his service and mourning his passing, we honour the proud history of our country and pay tribute to all those who fought and died for Canada."
Here here!
There's no doubt that the heroics of our soliders fighting in WWI put Canada on the global map as a strong, fearless nation.  And there's equally no doubt that years later in WWII, that same resilience, courage, and pride continued as our troops stormed Normandy on D-Day and helped liberate millions from the clutches of Nazi rule.
As a young 17 year old Ukrainian man, my grandfather (whom I'm named after) was forced to fight in WWI for the Austrio-Hungrian army on the Italian front.  Prior to his return to his villiage in Southwestern Ukraine, his father had been taken prisoner by the Polish Army where he later died in prison from typhous.  My grandfather then enlisted in the Ukrainian Army, marking the beginning of a period which he never really spoke much about, if at all, to anyone.  Perhaps it is what prompted him to leave his family behind, make the trek to port, and cross the Atlantic to seek a better life in a place called Canada.  And so here I am.
I am forever grateful to this day of the great sacrifice he made.
Although their bodies may not remain on this earth, for a long-lived veteran like John Babcock and my grandfather, their spirit shall live on. 
Never forget, my friends.  NEVER forget.

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