Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Do Your Bit

A few months ago I came across this collection of interviews with Canadian veterans, and saved it for today, Remembrance Day, to post. There are video interviews with transcripts and you can search the collection by hometown, war, location, service branch and other criteria. Some of the entries are browsable through themed collections, like the Spitfire pilots, (among the number at the Battle of Britain, of whom Prime Minister Winston Churchill said, "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few"), and the Chinese-Canadian veterans.

For example, Cedric Mah was a British Columbian who wanted to fly, wasn't allowed to join the Air Force because he was the wrong race. He learned to fly privately and then was allowed to be a flight instructor. I wonder how many white Canadian pilots went to war with Cedric's words keeping them alive. (Pilots often hear their flight instructors' voices as they complete essential tasks, because that's the voice that has drilled that behaviour into the pilot).

He then got a job flying supplies through the Himalayas, an incredibly dangerous job, which he did because "Everybody was doing their bit so you had to do your bit." He survived that, and listen to or read the bit about flying on one engine, iced up, with the gear down, and having to jettison 52 bales of American greenbacks.

I'll be at a cenotaph ceremony today, and I sincerely hope that the officiating individual doesn't yak right through eleven a.m. like he did at the one I attended last year. People in attendance were just looking at each other in shocked confusion and trying to tune him out and observe a two minute silence anyway.

(By the way, The Canadian military is currently looking for flight instructors, and doesn't care if you're male, female, black, white or Chinese. They keep contacting me, the real me not "Dear Aviatrix." Let me know if you are an interested Canadian with a flight instructor rating, and I'll hook you up).


nec Timide said...

Our ceremony is always officiated by a member of the Royal Canadian Legion, they never miss the time. And that is after having ceremonies at two smaller memorials on the way to the main cenotaph.

Sounds like a nice opportunity with the CF, if only I were 30 years younger. Ah well.

My boots are polished, time to hang the medals and buttons on my tunic for tomorrow.

Thank you for participating.

Lord Hutton said...

We were at our Rememberance Ceremony today. All very moving, and then something I dont think I have ever seen before: as the old veterans carrying the colours marched off, they were applauded. Slightly distasteful at first after the silence but then seemed just right. Very emotional