Sunday, November 29, 2015

Peter Mansbridge

~ A Canadian of Interest ~
(written by Jill Buchner...published in Canadian Living magazine)

For CBC News Chief correspondent Peter Mansbridge,
some of the best lessons happen outside the classroom.

It's hard to picture Peter Mansbridge as a kid, dodging his homework and dressing in T-shirts instead of ties. But the CBC News Chief correspondent is first to admit he hasn't always been the model of intellectual enlightenment.

I was a very average student,” says Peter who attended high school in Ottawa. “ I spent more time looking outside the window than inside the classroom.” Without the marks for university, his education ended after grade 12. He went on to join the navy, but admits he didn't apply himself there. He withdrew from the 7-year program after only 2 years, choosing to leave with an honourary discharge.

I was sort of lost at sea,” he says. “I didn't want to come back home, because it was such an admission of failure, so I bounced around Western Canada for a while.” He landed a job with a small airline that took him to Winnipeg and Brandon, Manitoba...Prince Albert, Saskatchewan...and finally Churchill, Manitoba where he worked a variety of jobs, from gassing airplanes to collecting tickets. “I was 19 and carefree and enjoying the world.”

One day in 1968 while on cargo duty, he was asked to announce a flight over the PA system. “It was something like, Trans Air Flight106 for Thompson, Winnipeg now ready for boarding,” he recalls. As the passengers filed toward the door, one walked straight toward Peter. “You've got a really good voice. Have you ever thought of being in radio?” asked the man. “I thought he was joking,” says Peter. “I had never thought about broadcasting; it never even crossed my mind.”

That man, the manager of Churchill's CBC Northern Service station, wanted to hire Peter for a late-night radio show. He took the job. “Frankly, if I had said no, he would have offered it to the next person he heard. But, as it turned out, Peter was a perfect fit. “At that point in my life, I'd had all these opportunities that I had not handled well...whether it was school...the possibility of going to university...or the navy.”

It was Peter who took the initiative to start the station's first newscast shortly after he was hired. “I was fascinated by news and grew up in a family where we talked about current events all the time.” From that job in Churchill, he gradually moved up the ranks at CBC.

Today, Peter Mansbridge is the authority for keeping Canadians informed about international and national issues. We have come to trust that soothing, steadfastly serious baritone to deliver news on everything from politics to natural disasters. While it's hard to get over the irony that it was his voice, not his education or skill that landed him such an important job. Peter says he owes a lot to real-world learning...constant discussion...and curiosity. “That's what journalism is all about. You ask questions...challenge assumptions...tell people what you've learned,” he says.

Though he gets strange looks when he tells journalism students his unique story, he stands by the belief that formal education is only part of the equation. Education is extremely important! Life Experience is important as well. Some of Peter's early lessons came from moving around the world...thanks to having a military father, who also stressed that success in life depended upon finishing school.

As a journalist, Peter loves constantly learning about the world. While he's had the opportunity to interview major politicians and religious leaders, the most eye-opening lessons come from ordinary people caught in extraordinary circumstances! Peter has been sharing his stories with Canadians for the past 46 years. He knows one thing to be true:
We never know enough.
We're never familiar enough with our own institutions
and the challenges that face our country.
We never know enough about the world.”

Confessions from the Intellects
with gratitude to Dilu for the following:

Bill Gates: I didn't even complete my university education
Tom Cruize: I was a dyslexic kid.
Lionel Messi: I used to serve tea at a shop to support my football training.
Steve Jobs: I used to sleep on the floor in friends' rooms, returning Coke bottles for food, money and getting weekly free meals at a local temple.

Tony Blair: My teachers used to call me a failure.
Nelson Mandela: I was in prison for 27 years.
Sharukh Khan (Bollywood Actor): I slept on benches and every day borrowed 20R's from friend to travel to film city.

Michell Jordan: During my secondary school, I was dropped from my school basketball team.
Amitabh Bacchan: I was rejected for the job in 'All India Radio' because of my heavy voice.
Dhirubhai Ambani (richest person in India): I used to work in petrol pump.
Rajnikant (Bollywood Actor): At the age of 30, I was a bus conductor.
Friends...there are many such people who struggled.
Life is not about what you couldn't do so's what you can still do.
Wait...and don't ever give up ~ Miracles happen every day.

Here is the News...with Peter Moosebridge
(Published by The Canadian Press...November 16, 2015)
CBC anchor 'leapt at the chance' to do Disney role.
Disney's animated feature “Zootopia” will feature a uniquely Canadian character ~ a news anchor moose-voiced by CBC's Peter Mansbridge. The character of Peter Moosebridge is a moose and co-anchor of the ZTV News, a trusted source of news for the inhabitants of “Zootopia”. Disney says the character was specifically written with Canada in mind and intended to be voiced by a Canadian. The studio reached out to Mansbridge, who said he immediately accepted the cameo.

The comedy-action adventure is about a city where animals from every environment live together. Zootopia opens in theatres March 4, 2016. Not surprisingly, Peter was a natural and we believe audiences will delight in seeing Canada represented in Peter Moosebridge.
Why did he want to do the role? Peter states, “Well, I didn't want to do it for me...
I wanted to do it really for my kids and grandkids”.

Compiled by Merle Baird-Kerr...November 19, 2015

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Silken Laumann

Remember her??? I surely do! David Churchill (Spec journalist) published an article with photo in today's issue, May 29,th. It was shortly after capturing the Olympic Bronze Medal...and when she returned locally, offered opportunities to meet with her. At a large invited assembly, she related her feat, performing with sheer determination, to compete in the 1992 Summer Olympics. She was startlingly charming, giving each of us a 12 inch x 6 inch plaque displaying her rowing technique a-seat her “boat”...with outstretched oar blades, each end supporting a Canadian flag. Her silhouette in the rippling dark water with tree-foliage backdrop is most dramatic. For me...a treasure to have!

The lower right corner of the plaque has her name and in italic print:
World & World Cup Champion
and Two Time Olympic Bronze Medalist

The following are excerpts from David's writing:

Silken Laumann inspires fans with her message of hope

More than 20 years after he famous moment on the Olympic stage, she continues to be an inspiration. The former Canadian rowing champion brought her tales of hope and overcoming adversity to the Hamilton area this week as part of a book-signing tour for her new book...Unsinkable.

She stopped at Bryan Prince Bookseller in West Hamilton for a lunchtime book-signing and was headed to Burlington Central Library for another reading Wednesday night. Pictures in her book show the rower in action from her competitive days. The same photo is hanging on the wall of the change room at the Leander Boat Club where the Westdale team trains. With a constant smile, Laumann offered advice to teenage rowers while getting their books signed. 'Have fun and work together,' she tells one rower...and to another, 'You can't control how you do and the final results....but you can control your effort.'

Laumann said the book tour has been a blessing and a challenge as she tells her personal story of a recovery from a brutal accident just 10 weeks before the 1992 Olympics in Germany. Doctors doubted that she would ever row competitively again...but 27 days and 5 operations later, she was back to win a bronze medal. The harder part, she said, was telling her family's story. Laumann, who turns 50 this fall, told of a childhood of terror, self-hatred, self-harm and anorexia. These claims have been disputed by her family members. Laumann said she started and stopped writing the book a number of times in what turned out to be a five-year process.

The three-time-Olympian medalist now lives in Victoria with her partner and four children. Two of her teenage children are competitive rowers. She keeps active, cycling, cross-country skiing & swimming. She is a spokesperson for Good Life Kids and a board member of Right To Play International.
'I miss the rowing career...but I don't miss the pressure.'

Pearls of Wisdom
You may not control all the events that happen to you;
But you can decide not to be be reduced by them.
(Maya Angelou)

Merle Baird-Kerr...written May 29, 2014

As an Addendum to a previous remarkable Canadian Ice Skating champion, about whom I've originally writtten, this news item by Gary Smith of the Hamilton Spectator who has written about theatere and dance for more than 30 years, published the following on November 24 this week:
Told to him by Toller in a 1986 interview...
"Most people who have a preconceived notion of who or what I am
are usually amazed when they meet me. They often say,
'You're not that arrogant, temperamental prick I expected.'
But I never deny that reputation. I never think
one ought to confess or deny anything."
I think I understand something of the creative force that fuelled the man's genius...I also felt a touch of the loneliness and desperation that drove him to distraction. More than anything, he wanted to be loved.
He faced the ugliness of other children who laughed at his whimsy and called him hurtful names.
David Thomlinson (actor) stars in "Toller",
the story of the maverick figure skater and artist...and his powerful choices.

Playwright Sky Gilbert explores with passion and eloquence in his electrifying new drama, "Toller".
Demanding perfection of himself and fearing mediocrity in others, Hamilton-born Cranston (he grew up in Kirkland Lake and Montreal), hid his insecurities under a tough hide of arrogance. Always a little boy battered by schoolmates, Cranston was determined to be better than any of them. Angered, perhaps frightened by criticism, he hated inferiors who knew nothing of his art.
"All art is a journey," Cranston says in Gilbert's drama.
(But the journey here is about a man confronting the truth of his own life
and Gilbert creates that landscape perfectly.)
Cranston further stated, "Of course, there's always the fear of not accomplishing
all you really should. I guess it's really just coming to terms with
life's voyages of self-discovery."
David Thomlinson says, "This is for all little boys everywhere who are different!"
Presentation is given at Hammer Theatre...15 Colbourne Street (Artword Artbar)
on November 26 to 28 @ 8 pm and matinee on Sunday @ 2 pm.

Toller Cranston died of a heart attack at age 65 at his Mexican home, Jan.24.
I think he'd like Gilbert's play.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Coyote Intrusion

Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner are a duo of characters from the 'Looney Tunes' and 'Merry Melodies'...a series of cartoons. Coyote repeatedly attempts to catch and subsequently eat the Road Runner, (a fast-running ground bird)...but is never successful. Coyote, instead of his species' animal instincts, uses absurdly complex contraptions and elaborate plans to pursue his prey...which always comically backfire with Wile normally getting injured by the slap-shot humour.

Those Aren't Coyotes Roaming Caledon ~ They're Coywolves!
Bradley White, a leading geneticist with Trent University who was involved in the discovery of the coywolf says the animal is a hybrid that emerged about a century ago, after eastern wolves and western coyotes mated. This is a species that is quickly evolving. The coywolf is larger and is much more likely to travel in packs like the coyote. These larger ones will take deer, small livestock (like goats and chickens)...and certainly family pets if left on their own at peak hours, which are generally in early morning and late at night.

They appear in residential areas such as Caledon East (near Orangeville, Ontario) because they are more acceptable to human territory than the wolves or a typical coyote would be. They are not particularly aggressive, but they are opportunistic creatures,” he said. “They are adapting to life with humans around.”
Interestingly, a couple evenings ago, I watched David Suzuki's “Nature of Things”
which introduced me to the coywolf.
In the past year, we've had several coyotes roaming around in my city of Burlington...perhaps they were coywolves! Toronto, apparently is home to growing packs of coywolves ~ living in areas adjacent to busy highways which provide wooded areas between the vehicular traffic and human habitation. In Algonquin Park (northern Ontario), (8,000 square km) has become the domain for these coywolves.
In such areas, they interbreed and are creating 'families'
living on the fringes of residential locations.
They have become more adaptable and more intelligent.

In United States, the tall grasslands and wooded areas surrounding Chicago are inundated with at least 2,000 coywolves; and even the outer Burroughs of New York City are home to these breeding 'hybrids'.
Research now shows that 49 of 50 States (except Long Island) are 'home' to this new species.

Traits of Coyotes and Coywolves
Average weight is 30 to 45 pounds on average.
Paw-track size is oval and measures 3 to 3.5 inches long.
Colours range from blonde to darker black and brown...but is usually tawny brown.
They feed mostly on smaller mammals.
Opportunistic predators: fruit to meat, mice, voles, rabbits, woodchucks, larger animals if available.
Habitat is usually wilderness or agricultural suburban areas; preference is the edges of human habitat.
Require areas of 'cover' and supply of high-prey members.

Avoid Interactions from occurring: Do not let dogs outdoors loose without constant supervision.
Fences should be at least 5 feet high and with no 'crawl-space' underneath.
Dogs, taken out by their owners, should be leashed.
Dogs should not be tied outdoors unfenced and unsupervised in coyote-prevalent areas.
Cats should be kept indoors ~ unless trained to remain at home.

Do's and Don'ts in Coyote/Coywolf Country: DO chase them away and make noise (bang pots and pans) if you don't want them in your yard...OR watch them from inside your windows, if interested.
DO make noise when you're outside, especially if coyotes are often in your area (having a den nearby).
With noise, they will often change their course of direction when they hear people.
DO bring a horn or whistle to scare them away from you.
DO NOT feed coyotes or other animals...(even if you are feeding birds)...they look for easy 'handouts'.
Absolutely, DO NOT let your cat outside if you are truly concerned about its health.
DO enjoy their presence and the fact that having this wily predator
adds to the mystique of your neighbourhood!

In a Nutshell: Eastern wolves, often considered to be a 'hybrid' of gray wolves and coyotes, actually represent a separate species, as revealed by the latest genomic research published in Biology Letters.
Eastern Wolves are a separate species; however, when they and coyotes mix, a new species is born: The Coywolf! They are 'hybrids. In reality, wolves, coyotes and dogs have formed a new type of creature referred to as The Coywolf. There are now millions of them roaming around North America.
They're faster, more muscular, have bigger jaws...and are better suited for a variety of environments.

Coyote Finds an Old Dog Toy in the Snow
Photographer, Pamela Karaz lives in Trenton Falls, New York in a rural area. Her own property is 48 acres of forest and field; frequently she gets to see wildlife in her own backyard. “We've had coyotes living around us for years. We hear them mostly during the summer evenings...but something other than coyote howls happened two years ago. Our driveway is a quarter-mile long, lined with 45-year-old balsam trees. While having morning coffee, I spotted the coyote. He went to the middle of the driveway...leaving his scent on a downed branch (indicating he was a male)...then went into the trees and popped up at the edge of our yard...looked around...checked it out...and sniffed some tracks in our yard before noticing the blue-stuffed toy...sniffing around where our dog had rolled...again sniffed the blue raggedy toy...dropped it and sniffed it again. That's when the magic happened!

He picked it up then proceeded to toss it into the air and play with it like a dog would toss a toy. It lasted perhaps 5 to 10 minutes...picking up the toy...tossing it in the air...picking it up again...almost bucking around with it...then he just happily and casually trotted off with it in his mouth.” Karaz notes that her dogs often leave their stuffed toys out in the yard and more than one has disappeared...this is perhaps not the first time the coyote had played and run off with her dogs' toys.

Pamela Karaz further comments: “Many animal species exhibit 'play'...and yet, humans can't help but look on in awe when we realize it is a species beyond the domestic dogs and cats we keep for company. We get accustomed to thinking of wildlife as efficient and purposeful, wasting no energy. For the young of many species, 'play' included is an essential part of growing up! Through play, juveniles learn everything they'll need for adulthood to to navigate through the social structure of their community. So, we look on with joy when fox pups romp with each other...and bear cubs tumble around together. But, when the play carries on into adulthood, we stare with amazement, reminding we are not the only animals who like to inject a little joy into our day with a little silliness!
They have personalities...they have feelings...and they do their best to survive
in what is sometimes a very unfriendly world. They are not so different from us!

Written by Merle Baird-Kerr...November 2, 2015

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Drafting Guys Over 60

This is funny and obviously written by a Former Soldier
who titled his writing...
New Direction for any War: Send Service Vets over 60.

I am over 60 and the Armed Forces thinks I'm too old to track down terrorists. You can't be older than 42 to join the military. They've got the whole thing ass-backwards. Instead of sending 18-year-olds off to fight in wars, they ought to take us old guys! You shouldn't be able to join a military unit until you're at least 35 years old.

For starters, researchers say 18-year-olds think about sex every 10 seconds. Old guys think about sex a couple times a month, leaving us more than 280,000 additional seconds per day to concentrate on the enemy around, in front of and behind us.

Young guys haven't lived long enough to be cranky...and a cranky soldier is a dangerous soldier. “My back hurts! I can't sleep! I'm tired and hungry!” We are bad-tempered and impatient...and maybe letting us kill some asshole that desperately deserves it, will make us feel better and shut us up for a while.

An 18-year-old doesn't even like to get up before 10 AM. Old guys always get up early to what the h...! Besides, like I said, “I'm tired and can't sleep”...and since I'm already up, I may as well be up killing some fanatical son-of-a-bitch.

If captured, we couldn't spill the beans because we'd forget where we put them. In, rank and serial number would be a real brainteaser.

Boot camp would be easier for old guys. We're used to getting screamed and yelled at and we're used to soft food. We've also developed an appreciation for guns. We've been using them for years as an excuse to get out of the house...away from the screaming and yelling.

They could lighten up on the obstacle course, however...I've been in combat and never saw a 20-foot wall with rope hanging over the side, nor did I ever do any pushups after completing basic training. Actually, the running part is kind of a waste of energy, too...I've never seen anyone outrun a bullet.

An 18-year-old has the whole world ahead of him. He's still learning to shave, to start a conversation with a pretty girl. He still hasn't figured out that a baseball cap has a brim to shade his eyes...not the back of his head.

These are all great reasons to keep our kids at home to learn a little more about life before sending them off into harm's way.

Let us old guys track down those terrorists. The last thing an enemy would want to see is a couple million pissed-off-old-farts with bad attitudes and automatic weapons...who know that their best years are already behind them.

HEY!!! How about recruiting Women menopause???
You think MEN have attitudes???
Ohhhhhhhhhh my God!!!
If nothing else, put them on 'border patrol'. They'll have it secured the first night.

(Compliments to Sherrie for the foregoing story)

Military Humour

“The best tank terrain is that with anti-tank weapons.”
(Russian military doctrine)

“The best armour is staying out of gunshot”
(Italian Proverb)

“Airplanes suffer from so many technical faults, that it is only a matter of time
before any reasonable man realizes that they are useless!”
(Scientific American ~ 1910)

                                             Officer: Soldier, do you have change for a dollar?
                                             Soldier: Sure, buddy.
                                             Officer: That’s no way to address an officer.
                                             Now, let’s try again!
                                             Soldier, do you have change for a dollar?
                                             Soldier: No, SIR!

Scripted by Merle Baird-Kerr…September 9, 2014
Wish to comment? E-mail to:

Friday, November 13, 2015

Honour Tributes...Given Posthumously

Mankind must put an end to war...before
war puts an end to mankind. (John F. Kennedy)

Older men declare war; but it is the youth
that must fight and die. (Herbert Hoover)

I believe conscription is unjust, immoral and a denial of human rights.
(Tony McFarland)

My Son
(This tribute, courtesy of Sydney)

A wealthy man and his son loved to collect rare works of art. They had everything in their collection from Picasso to Raphael. They would often sit together and admire the great works of art. When the Vietnam conflict broke out, the son went to war. He was very courageous and died in battle while rescuing another soldier. The father was notified and grieved deeply for his only son.

After about a month later, just before Christmas, there was a knock at the door. A young man stood at the door with a large package in his hands. He said, “Sir, you don't know me, but I am the soldier for whom your son gave his life. He saved many lives that day...and he was carrying me to safety when a bullet struck him in the heart and he died instantly. He often talked about you...and your love for art.” The young man held out this package. “I know this isn't much. I am not really a great artist, but I think your son would have wanted you to have this.”The father opened the package. It was a portrait of his son, painted by the young man. He stared in awe at the way the soldier had captured the personality of his son in the painting. The father was so drawn to the eyes that his own eyes welled up with tears. He thanked the young man and offered to pay him for the picture. “Oh, no sir, I could never repay what your son did for me. It's a gift.”

The father hung the portrait over his mantle. Every time visitors came to his home, he took them to see the portrait of his son before he showed them any of the other great works he had collected. The man died a few months later. There was to be a great auction of his paintings. Many influential people gathered...excited to see the great paintings, having an opportunity to purchase one for their collection.
On the platform sat the painting of the son. The auctioneer pounded his gavel. “We will start the bidding with this picture of 'The Son'. Who will bid for this picture?” There was silence...

Then a voice in the back of the room shouted, “We want to see the famous paintings. Skip this one.”
But the auctioneer persisted, “Will somebody bid for this painting? Who will start the bidding? $100, $200?” Another voice angrily stated, “We didn't come to see this painting. We came to see the Van Gogh's, the Rembrandts. Get on with the real bids!” But still, the auctioneer continued, “The Son! The Son! Who'll take The Son?” Finally, a voice came from the very back of the room. It was the longtime gardener of the man and his son. “I'll give $10 for the painting.” Being a poor man, it was all he could afford. “We have $10...who will bid $20?” No response...a voice from the rear said, “Give it to the bidder for $10. Let's see the 'masters' of art!”

The crowd was becoming angry. They didn't want the picture of The Son. They wanted the more worthy investments for their collections. Then the auctioneer pounded his gavel...“Going once, twice...SOLD for $10.” A man sitting in the second row now shouted, “Now, let's get on with the collection! That's why we're here!” The auctioneer laid down his gavel, “I'm sorry, the auction is over.”

What about the paintings?” “I am sorry,” stated the auctioneer, “when I was called to conduct the auction, I was told of a secret stipulation in the will. I was not allowed to reveal that stipulation until this time. Only the painting of 'The Son' would be auctioned. Whoever bought that painting would inherit the entire estate...including the paintings. The man who took 'The Son' gets everything. The auction is ended and closed.”
God gave his son over 2,000 years ago to die on the Cross.
Much like the auctioneer, His message today is:
'The Son, The Son, who'll take The Son?'
(Because, you see, whoever takes The Son, gets everything.)

For God so loved the world, He gave his only begotten Son;
Who so ever believeth in Him, shall have eternal life...
That's Love...John 3:16.

Swedish Ceremony Gives Closure to Family of Hamilton 'Hero Pilot'

Mark McNeil of The Hamilton Spectator published this story Sept. 26, 2015:
A heart-warming colour photo of the two sisters holding a heart-shaped wreath
to place on ocean waters off Sweden's coast.

More than 100 people came out in a tiny Swedish coastal hamlet to commemorate a Second World War bomber pilot from Hamilton who died 'a hero' 70 years ago. The September 19th ceremony in Torso in the southern part of the Scandinavian country honoured 21-year old William Blake, who died on April 23, 1944 after ordering his crew to parachute from his severely damaged 'Halifax plane.' Then he steered the bomber away from land, so as not to injure civilians below, crashing into the sea.

At the ceremony, one person recalled seeing the distressed bomber flying very close to the ground. “He talked about standing on the roof of a building at the time and was blown by the intense turbulence,” said Jennifer Blake, a niece of the pilot who travelled to Sweden to attend the ceremony. “It was a weekend I will never forget. It changes you,” Blake said after returning to Canada. She said the host of the ceremony, Jan Landin, a retired captain in the Swedish Air Force, told the story of an airman's jacket button that had been kept all these years. “After hearing the sound of a horrible crash,”he said in a transcript of his speech, “a local boy on a bicycle came upon an airman who was walking out of a forested area. The airman was one of the six who parachuted to safety...who asked the boy if he was in
Sweden, which the young man confirmed. The airman wanted to give him his flashlight, but the young man was afraid to take it. Then the airman gave him a button...and this is the one (showing it to the crowd). In the button, there is a compass. The young man took him to a house where he knew the family had a telephone.”

William Blake and his crew were on a mission to drop mines in the waters near the coast of German-occupied Norway when they came under enemy fire. After being hit, Blake managed to steer the plane away, knowing it was too severely damaged to return to England...and set course for Sweden.

A few weeks before the ceremony, divers confirmed the location of the crash. And, as part of the ceremony, Jennifer Blake, her sister Christine Watson...with their husbands and niece Carolyn Baker...were taken to the spot on the water where they laid a wreath. Baker used her smartphone and through Skype, was able to send real-time-video images of the ceremony to William Blake's only surviving brother, Richard, 96, who now lives in Guelph, Ontario...who commented, “It was very moving to see the actual spot in the water and to think two of my daughters were there placing a wreath on the water to commemorate William. It brought 'closure' to me.”

Merle Baird-Kerr...written November 1, 2015
To or

Monday, November 9, 2015

War Drama ~ Vietnam

I saw 'courage' both in the Vietnam War...and in the 'struggle' to stop it.
I learned that 'patriotism' includes 'protest' ~ not just military service!
(John F. Kerry)

No event in American history is more misunderstood than the Vietnam War.
It was misreported then...and it is mis-remembered now.
(Richard M. Nixon)

Jerry Stiller stated, “Hollywood never knew there was a Vietnam War...until they made the movie!”

You're a 19-year-old-kid. You are critically wounded and dying in the jungle somewhere in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. It's November 11, 1967...LZ (landing zone) X-ray. Your unit is outnumbered 8-1 and the enemy fire is so intense from 100 yards away that your CO (commanding officer) has ordered the MedEvac helicopters to stop coming in. You're lying there, listening to the enemy machine guns and you know you're not going to get out. Your family is half way around the world...2,000 miles away...and you'll never see them again. As the world starts to fade in and out, you know this is the day!
Then...over the machine gun noise, you faintly hear that sound of a helicopter. You look up to see a Huey coming in. doesn't seem real because no MedEvac markings are on it. Captain Ed Freeman is coming for you. He's not MedEvac so it's not his job, but he heard the radio call and decided he's flying his Huey down into the machine gun fire anyway! Even after the MedEvacs were ordered not to come! He's coming anyway!

And he drops it in and sits there in the machine gun fire, as they load 3 of you at a time on board. Then he flies you up...and out through the gunfire to the doctors and nurses and safety. And, he kept coming back!!! 13 more times!!! Until all the wounded were out. No one knew the mission was over, that the Captain had been hit 4 times in the legs and left arm. He took 29 of you and your buddies out that day.

Some, if not most, would not have made it without the Captain and his Huey.
Medal of Honour Recipient, Captain Ed Freeman,
United States Air Force, Died at the Age of 70, March, 2014 in Boise, Idaho.
May God Bless His Soul...and Rest in Peace!

I bet you didn't hear about this hero's passing, but we've sure seen a bunch about the thug, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin and other criminals in our homeland. The American government simply commented, “What difference does it make???!!! It bickered with congress over Health & Obama care! But ZIP ABOUT THE PASSING of Medal of Honour Winner ~ Captain Ed Freeman.
Shame on the Media!!!

I was terrified of the Vietnam War when I was 13.
I thought I was going...the draft was such an ominous thing!
I felt and feared as if it was going to trickle down to me.
(Dylan McDermott)

The truth is that I oppose the Iraq war, just as I opposed the Vietnam War because these two conflicts have weakened the United States and diminished our standing in the world. (George McGovern)

In World War One, they called it 'shell shock'.
Second time around, they called it 'battle fatigue'.
After 'Nam, it became 'post-traumatic-stress-disorder' (PTSD)
(Jan Karon)

IL SILENZIO” ~ Holland Remembers

About six miles from Maastricht, in the Netherlands, lie buried 8,301 American soldiers who died in “Operation Market Garden” in battles to liberate Holland in the fall/winter of 1944.

Everyone of the men buried in the cemetery, as well as those in the Canadian and British military cemeteries, has been 'adopted by a Dutch family' who mind the grave...decorate it...and keep alive the memory of the soldier they have adopted. It is even the custom to keep a portrait of 'their soldier' in a place of honour in their homes.

Annually, on Liberation Day, memorial services are held for 'the men who died to liberate Holland.'
The day concludes with a concert; the final piece is always 'Il Silenzio'...a memorial piece commissioned by the Dutch and first played in 1965 on the 20th anniversary of Holland's liberation. It has been the concluding piece of the memorial ever since.

This year, the soloist was a 13-year-old Dutch girl, Melissa Venema, backed by Andre Rieu and his orchestra (the Royal Orchestra of the Netherlands). This beautiful concert piece is based upon the original version of 'taps' and was composed by Italian composer, Nino Rossi.

The Final Inspection
The soldier stood and faced God,
Which must always come to pass.
He hoped his shoes were shining,
Just as brightly as his brass.
Step forward now, you soldier,
How shall I deal with you?
Have you always turned the other cheek?
To My Church, have you been true?

The soldier squared his shoulder and said,
No, Lord, I guess I ain't...
Because of those of us who carry guns,
Can't always be a saint.
I've had to work most Sundays,
And at times, my talk was tough.
And sometimes I've been violent
Because the world is awfully rough.

But, I never took a penny
That wasn't mine to keep...
Though I worked a lot of overtime
When the bills got just too steep.

And I never passed a cry for help,
Though at times, I shook with fear.
And sometimes, God, forgive me,
I've wept unmanly tears.

I know I don't deserve a place
Among the people here.
They never wanted me around,
Except to calm their fears.
If you've a place for me here, Lord,
It needn't be so grand.
I never expected or had too much,
But, if you don't...I'll understand.

There was a silence all around the throne
Where the saints had often trod...
As the soldier waited quietly
For the judgment of his God.
Step forward now, you soldier,
You've borne your burdens well.
Walk peacefully on Heaven's streets:
You've done your time in Hell!”

Compiled by Merle Baird-Kerr...November 1, 2015
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Thursday, November 5, 2015

Go...Buy a Poppy Today!

Lesson Taught... “You all Listen up and Pay Attention!”
(Gratitude to Meg for this Lesson)

In September of 2005, on the first day of school, Martha Cothren, a History teacher at Valley Heights High School in Port Rowan, Ontario, did something not to be forgotten. That first day, with the permission of the school superintendent, the principal and the building supervisor, she removed all of the desks in her classroom. When the first period kids entered the room, they discovered that there were no desks.”Mrs. Cothren, where are our desks?”.

She replied, “You can't have a desk until you tell me how you earn the right to sit at a desk.”
They thought, “Well, maybe it's our grades.” She said, “No.”
Maybe it's our behaviour.” She said, “No, it's not your behaviour.”

And so, they came and went...the first period...second period...third period. Still no desks in the classroom. Kids called their parents to tell them what was happening and by early afternoon, television news crews had started gathering at the school to report about the crazy teacher who had taken all the desks out of the room.

The final period of the day came and as the puzzled students found seats on the floor of the desk-less classroom, Martha Cothren said, “Throughout the day no one has been able to tell me just what he or she has done to earn the right to sit at the desks that are ordinarily found in this classroom. Now, I am going to tell you.”

At this point, Martha Cothren went over to the door of her classroom and opened it. Twenty-seven (27) Veterans, all in uniform, walked into that classroom...each carrying a school desk. The Vets began placing the school desks in rows...and then they would walk over and stand alongside the wall. By the time the last soldier had set the final desk in place...those kids started to understand, perhaps for the first time in their lives...just how the right to sit at those desks had been earned.

Martha said, “You didn't earn the right to sit at these desks. These heroes did it for you. They placed the desks here for you. They went halfway around the world, giving up their education and interrupting their careers and families so you could have the freedom you have. Now, it's up to you to sit in them. It is your responsibility to be good be good citizens. They paid the price so that you could have the freedom to get an education. Don't ever forget it!”

By the way, this is a true story. And this teacher was awarded Veterans of Foreign Wars 'Teacher of the Year' in 2006. She is the daughter of a WWII POW.

The Freedoms we have in this Great Country
were earned by our Veterans!
Let us always remember the men and women of our military
and the rights they have won for us.
Now, Go and Buy a Poppy!

A Gift of Poppy Seeds
(written by Molly Hayes...published in The Hamilton Spectator)

Remembrance Day is going to be extra special for Shirley Milligan with thanks to a random act of kindness overseas. Milligan, in her early 60's had always been curious about her family history...her grandfather, especially, who was killed in the First World War. Inside a letter, from a stranger in England, she found seeds taken from the poppies that grow beside her grandfather's grave in France ~ which she's never been able to visit. She was overwhelmed! “I was very emotional ~ these seeds are the closest to my grandfather I've ever been,” holding the letter in the kitchen of her home in Canfield, a small community in Haldimand County. “It was very much a 'a life is a circle' kind of thing: these are a part of him...I can grow them; my kids can grow them.”

This kind gesture came from a woman she'd never met. Pam Wilkins of West Sussex reached out to her over Facebook, after both had joined a group called 'Ashington Remembered.' Not not far from the hometown of Milligan's family in England, Milligan was hoping to discover more about her father's family ~ the Davidsons ~ and about her father's father, Pte. James Davidson Jr., who served with the 2nd battalion of the Northumberland Fusiliers. She knows from records that her grandfather died on October 3, 1918, near the end of the war, during a battle in Valenciennes of northern France. Wilkins was taking a trip to France and wondered if Milligan (who in posts to the online group, revealed she had family buried there) would like her to stop by the grave-site. After the visit, Wilkins sent her a photo of a small cross and plant she placed at his grave attaching an enclosed note that said, 'Always remembered'...and promising she'd mail her a small souvenir from the site ~ never did she guess it would be so symbolic and personal.
She plans on planting some of the seeds here to honour him.
She hopes to pass some on to her children ~ to keep his story alive.

Statues in Ottawa and Guelph Will Honour John McCrae

A century after he scribbled the simple but poignant stanzas of 'In Flanders Fields', John McCrae is being honoured with two statues. On of the 'larger than life' bronzes will be installed in Ottawa on May 3, while a duplicate will be unveiled in Guelph, McCrae's hometown, this summer.

Jim Selbie, a retired general who holds the honourary post of Colonel Commandant of the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery, said McCrae exemplified the citizen-soldier concept: “He had two professions, both of which he had great commitment a physician but equally that as a gunner.”

Mike McKay, a Guelph businessman and a retired reservist, lieutenant-colonel, was one of the driving forces behind the project....McKay organized a fund-raising project to find the $300,000 for the Guelph statue. A second effort raised about $460,000 for the Ottawa statue (which was additionally supported from National Defence and Veteran Affairs as well as $50,000 from the government of Flanders, in Belgium).
Canadian sculptor, Ruth Abernethy, shows McCrae sitting on a tree trunk
...his cap perched on his medical bag.
(Published by John Ward in The Canadian Press)

Merle Baird-Kerr...written November 12, 2014
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