If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields
Woke up with those words this morning I just wanted to find a way to let people know that we can never break faith with those who die in service of this great country. Never.
Without them, we have no Canada – and no opportunity to share what we do every day. I was tweeting about this on the weekend after reading a tremendous piece by Randy Turner of the Winnipeg Free Press. He wrote about an old vet, the last remaining World War II vet in Winkler. The piece is called a Soldier Shunned. Can you imagine what it must have been like in the 1940’s in Winkler, Manitoba where almost everybody was a church-going Mennonite, where everyone was instructed to believe that being a warrior was breaking faith with God. Even in a war that was to end all Wars. Even in a war that was in defense of freedom. Look, I am not here to cast stones upon anybody’s religion. But can you imagine the feeling of isolation you have in a small Manitoba town when almost everybody in town sees you as unworthy, when everyone wants to shun you, turn their heads away from you because you have chosen to serve your country? Today we do not break faith with those who die. We keep the faith.
Last week on the show we aired, as I do every year, And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda, which is to some an anti-war anthem written by Ireland’s Eric Bogle. I don’t play it to diss Remembrance Day but rather the opposite – to honour the physical, psychological and spiritual pain that many young men suffered. In this song Bogle writes about a young Aussie who serves his country, serves the British Empire in the Great War. The Turks are on the other side of history. They’re allied with Germany, with the Kaiser. A great battle takes place in Gallipoli where the Aussies are in the words of the writer, butchered like lambs to the slaughter. The soldier writes about the pain of surviving the slaughter:
And those that were left, well we tried to survive, in that mad world of blood, death and fire
And for ten weary weeks, I kept myself alive, though around me the corpses piled higher
Then a big Turkish shell knocked me arse over head, and when I woke up in my hospital bed,
And saw what it had done, well I wished I was dead. Never knew there was worse things than dyin’.
How can anything be worse than dyin’ we ask. And the soldier answers by talking about a different kind of shunning than took place in Winkler. Not shunned because he served, but shunned because of his horrific wounds. He talks about the crowd of Aussies turning out to welcome home their heroes, but turning their backs on some of the soldiers whose wounds were too ugly for the naked human eye. This shunned soldier says:
And as our ship pulled into Circular Quay, I looked at the place where me legs used to be. And thanked Christ there was nobody waiting for me, to grieve, to mourn, and to pity.
As we say the words Lest We Forget and while we listen to “In Flanders fields the poppies blow, between the crosses, row on row, that mark our place: and in the sky the larks still bravely singing fly, scarce heard amid the guns below,” we know that there are many who don’t get it, who don’t understand the pain of sacrifice.
We live in a world where it’s all about immediate gratification. We want to be able to push a button and see something beautiful. We want to pop a pill and feel something pleasurable. We want what we want and we want it now. Immediate gratification. The people we honour today weren’t looking to experience beauty. They were doing their duty to country. Our country. There was no gratification.
Those who oppose what we do today, say we are glorifying war. We are not glorifying anything. We are respecting the dead in Flanders Fields and all the fields where they lay. We are not glorifying violence. We are honouring tolerance. We fought the intolerant foe, not once but twice in the World Wars, and we fought in Korea, and we fought in Afghanistan, and we fight today for the dignity of all men and women and boys and girls, no matter their creed or colour.
Our heroes weren’t looking to conquer land or people. They weren’t looking to enrich themselves. They were serving a cause greater than their individual selves. Were they better than us? In many ways they were. Let’s just be honest about that, and honour our betters, our warriors, our veterans.
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields
Let us never break faith with the most loyal friends Canada has ever had.
Lest we Forget.
Good Morning I’m Charles Adler
30 years ago I started my new job in this very same building at Polo Park. C J O B wasn’t the tenant. It was a different radio station. We played tunes lots of them, light rock and less talk unless I was on the AIR…I was never a less talk kind of guy. Fast forward to 6 years later and I am on the move to Calgary. Why? Because I wanted to do talk radio. And there was only one talk radio job in Winnipeg and it was the venerable Peter Warren at CJOB. So I couldn’t stay in the town that had become my home until I was invited to do that job. Well Peter chose to retire in BC. He made that choice ten years after I left Winnipeg and by this point had worked in Calgary and Tampa and Boston and Toronto and so the crew that managed CJOB when Peter chose to hang ‘em up, flew to Toronto to offer me the only job I wanted in the city I was proud to call home. And so in September of 1998, 15 years ago, I came back to the Peg to sit in front of this coveted microphone. 7 years later, the President of Corus Radio in Toronto recruited me to do a national show on the Corus Network, to roll it out on Corus stations across the country. And while that had some appeal, it meant the most special part of radio went missing for my listeners and for me, the ability to touch you every day on what matters to you most.
There were days of course when the events outside Winnipeg mattered most. When world economies are collapsing and big bombs are going off and terrorists are flying airplanes into buildings, naturally we care most about the things that are thousands and thousands of kilometres beyond the perimeter, Portage and Main, The Forks, Polo Park. But thankfully for civilization those are only some days. On most days we care about our own backyard. Our own neighborhood. Winnipeg is my neighborhood no different than yours. So for eight years I was able to live in my neighborhood but couldn’t really communicate with my neighborhood in the most meaningful way possible. Corporations spend serious dollars on research asking questions of their audiences and of those people who aren’t even part of the audience but are potential listeners, prospects as they say in Sales. Well the audiences in every single community where was Corus was broadcasting including Winnipeg told our researchers that the RADIO that mattered most to them was the RADIO that focused like a laser on local. And so our various stations decided that rather than having a national show, they would have local throughout the day and evening. And Winnipeg audiences were no different than the rest and when it came to specific times and specific shows, here in Winnipeg the audience wanted Hal Anderson in the breakfast show and the person in your head right now who had left eight years earlier. And on this first school day of the year for many, that’s the Coles notes version of why you’re hearing change on CJOB today.
Now I don’t want to spend much more time on this show talking about the show. I’d rather, and I know you would rather have me do the show. But I want to get something off my chest. If anyone is concerned that the passing of eight years has softened me, has made me less inclined to offer an opinion, or to challenge conventional opinion, have no fear. My time slots have changed. Not my DNA. Last week on this air the premier of this province said he had some fear about me returning to this slot. He and I have never been on the same page politically and likely never will be. But his job is to do his job and mine is do mine. My job is NOT to burnish his reputation or to polish his trophy. If the public decides it’s time for change on BROADWAY just as they decided it was time for a little change here at POLO PARK, the premier will just have to live with that. If you make change your enemy it will defeat you. But I want you to know that I don’t get up every morning thinking what can I do to help defeat the government of the day? I get up every morning asking myself what can we do today to give Winnipeg the best possible RADIO CONVERSATION ? What I think about every moment in front of this microphone is not Greg Selinger or Brian Pallister. It’s you. It’s all about you. You are my listener, my customer.
As many of you know by now, I am a graduate of Adler’s Tailor Shop. Yes I went to some of those better known schools of higher learning in Montreal and Calgary and Boston. But the things in life that matter most I learned from my father the tailor, doing my homework in his store, doing chores for him in his store, and they including loading the boiler, delivering clothes and sewing up a lot of pants and skirts jackets, and pressing a lot of pants and skirts and jackets. That’s what tailors do and that’s what their kids do. What they do is satisfy their customers to keep them coming back for more. My dad taught me that people want to know that they matter. They live in a world where they are treated like machines. They know they work for people who would to replace them with machines. And so my dad said don’t you ever treat a customer like they’re not important. Nothing is more important than their needs, their desires, and their number one desire is to be treated with respect. And I want you to know folks that respect never meant to my dad agreeing with everything another person says. When you are always agreeing with everyone you meet, someone isn’t doing any thinking. So I won’t agree with everything you or any other guest on this show has to say. And you won’t agree with everything I say.
Our customer will get a quality product with real conversation. If I am not keeping it real, I know you’ll talk back to me on phone, on email, on facebook on twitter and even in person. Winnipeggers are not shy. You were not shy about telling us what you wanted and who you wanted. Thank you for your loyalty and support and for choosing CJOB and for choosing me. I hope that on this day and every day we can reward your choice by giving you the best radio this community has to offer, information, inspiration, and a few laughs along the way.
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