Sunday, January 06, 2008

Thoughts on Cold War From Canadian Legion

More Thoughts On The Cold War

I agree with the other contributors who support recognizing military service during the Cold War. (Letters, July/ August and September/October).

My father served in the Forces during World War II and again in the reserves from the early 1950s to the late '60s. Recognizing him and many others for service during the Cold War could be accomplished expeditiously and in a cost effective manner by issuing a Cold War bar to the existing Special Service Medal.

Since bars have been authorized for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Alert and other theatres, it would seem an ideal solution. Perhaps the Legion would lobby the appropriate government departments and make this a reality.

Ian Smith, Beamsville, Ont.

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November 11th is a day to remember those who have fallen, those who served, and those who are serving. But there is a large segment of soldiers that have gone without recognition for too many years. I am talking about the men and women who served and those who have lost their lives during the Cold War. Sometimes the Cold War was anything but cold!

It is nice to see that soldiers are getting the respect and recognition that was denied us. We have been looked down on by other veterans because we did not go to a shooting war. Society had turned its back on us because they didn't think we were needed.

Does this mean we're not brave or patriotic enough? I served with some of the finest people I have had the honour of knowing.

We all knew that when you signed up that the ultimate sacrifice might have to be made. We were there when no one else wanted to be. The poor equipment and poor pay did not deter us from our duty, keeping the Soviets in check and to preserve our way of life from a tyrannical regime. The world would be a lot different if we had not been there to prevent World War III. All that we want is our rightful place in remembrance and the respect of other veterans.

Wade Zuk, Barrhead, Alta.

Opening Up

As a Cold War veteran, I lost squadron mates and friends while serving in Canada and Europe with the Royal Canadian Air Force. This was during those times so many veterans did not have access to grief counselling, and we kept our feelings, emotions and memories bottled up inside. At the time, it was not manly to show or discuss these normal, human feelings. A major reason for doing so was that to discuss our lost friends brought emotions to the surface that we could not control, and we were embarrassed to have our voices crack and tears flow down our cheeks.

This year, I was honoured by being asked to be the guest speaker at Elliot Lake, Ont., Branch at our annual Remembrance Day banquet, always held in the evening of Nov. 10.

As I compiled drafts for my speech, the inspiration of talking about my "Lost Friends" began to take shape, and I decided to speak of them and tell my branch comrades about them and their sacrifices. The applause and comments, following, from the audience showed me they appreciated me doing so.

After the Remembrance Day ceremonies and parade, I always take a few private minutes at the cenotaph to repeat out loud the names of my lost friends. This year, a serving member of our Canadian Forces was also standing there, silently remembering her friends and all who sacrificed. After our private remembrance, we met in the branch. When Master Corporal Debbie Kent, recently returned from Afghanistan, heard of my speech of the previous night, she suggested that I should write to you and inform you of what I had done, because she believes, as I do, that it may inspire other veterans who are keeping their grief locked inside, to also begin discussing their lost friends.

I believe it is good therapy for grieving souls to have an outlet for their grief, and one excellent way to do so is to discuss it with friends. Who better than our comrades in the Legion who truly understand what we are going through, and who are there to help each other.

I don't know if you will find value in the suggestion to let other vets know how I was inspired to "open up" and talk about my lost friends. I know I feel considerably more comfortable now to discuss my lost friends, having finally broken the silence.

Chuck Myles, Elliot Lake, Ont.

Sean P. Eagan
ACWV Public Affairs Director

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