A doctor/photographer Jeff Gusky spoke to us from France where he has been given access to Underground Cities from WWI where so many of our Canadian Fallen spent their final hours.
“The Only Colour I See is Canada” – abridged transcript from Charles Adler comment originally aired on the radio.
I want to talk to you about a picture (the one posted here) that was sent around the country Remembrance Day. I’m am grateful to Kevin Chief for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this great Canadian moment. Chief happens to be a cabinet minister in the Manitoba provincial government. But with all due respect to the government and his political membership, that to me is not even close to the most important part of the story.
I want to tell you about the picture. It was a selfie of Chief surrounded by young people he admired, Royal Canadian Air Cadets from Winnipeg, smiling young Canadian patriots gathered to commemorate Remembrance Day. Because of the world that you and I share, I now have to go beyond just saying they are Canadians. I have to tell you their gender and ethnicity. If I don’t do that this story is incomplete. Three of the Cadets in the picture were female and one was male. Two of the females were wearing Hijabs, Muslim head scarves – not covering their faces, just the ones that cover the head. These young patriots were not hiding from Canada, they were inspired by Canada. And the young male cadet in the picture, he’s aboriginal, as is Kevin Chief.
The picture touched my Canadian heart and I re-tweeted it. My bud Joe Warmington at the Toronto Sun is one of my Twitter followers that I am fortunate to have. Joe was prepping a piece covering Remembrance Day and he was looking at hundreds of pictures. But the picture I re-tweeted touched his Canadian heart too, and so part of his column read like this:
“One picture, of the thousands moving around social media Tuesday, was retweeted by radio legend Charles Adler in Winnipeg. The picture was originally tweeted by Kevin Chief, 39, a cabinet minister in Manitoba’s NDP government. Taken on his cellphone, it shows four Canadian youth from the Royal Canadian Air Cadets No. 6 Jim Whitecross Squadron in Winnipeg proudly displaying their poppies and smiles.They honour the past and represent the future. ‘I was inspired,’ Chief told me in an interview. ‘To me, it showed Canada is one.’ He said he just had to get a selfie. ‘I grew up as an aboriginal kid in this neighbourhood where so many immigrant families came and succeeded,’ he said. ‘We are all Canadians and when I saw these kids from all different ethnic backgrounds wearing that uniform and proudly representing the country, it felt great.’ It is, he said, a country with opportunity thanks to those who have made sacrifices before us. I thought this picture showed the country very well,” – from Joe Warmington’s column.
Now I wish this story ended right here. But unfortunately it doesn’t. Beneath Joe Warmington’s “This Country is United” column, there are remarks posted by people who read it on line. Not all the comments are ignorant, ugly, and I’ll say it, racist. Not all. Not all push the disgust button of my Canadian heart. But too many of them do. And I am not going to do the polite Canadian thing by saying it’s just a handful. It’s not a handful. It’s a barrel full. It’s a barn full. It’s acres and acres full. Now I don’t take a backseat to anyone in this country, who says “if you come to my country and you want to trash our values; if you don’t believe in hard work, respecting your family, neighbours, and the law; if you’re here to diss my fellow Canadians and spit on my Maple Leaf; if you’re here to abuse your wife and daughter until they obey your tyrannical ideology, then I don’t want you here”. I’ve said these things because I believe these things. But as much as I feel anger toward those people who do those things on our soil, I feel just as angry with people born on our soil who look at young Canadians wearing Canadian uniforms and disrespect them – not because they represent some kind of hateful ideology, but because of their gynecology, or religion, or heritage.
Well Mike Adler the tailor, and Rose Adler the department store clerk, with their foreign accents, didn’t raise a bigot. They didn’t raise me to trash people from other countries who want to come here and love and respect Canada just as they did, and they didn’t raise me to kiss ass to anyone born here who feels it gives them the right to throw rocks at people who are not like them. You want to call someone names, PICK ME. Pick any name you like. I’ve heard ‘em all and my skin is thicker than the walls of the Manitoba legislature. I’ve spoken on the steps of the people’s house. And I’ve spoken to small and large groups of Canadians in uniform, and I never cared whether they were Christians or Jews or Sikhs or Muslims or atheists. I never cared about the colour of their skin. I cared about one thing and one thing only – were they committed to serving our country. And if they were, the only colour I saw was Canada.
Thank you Kevin Chief for having that picture taken with four young Canadians who are our future. Thank you Joe Warmington for noticing the pic and using that pic for your Remembrance Day column. And thank you my fellow Canadians for your loyalty and support for this proud Canadian who is listening to the thump of your Canadian Heart. It sounds like love and respect for our people. There is no finer sound. I’m Charles Adler
“’A single-file line of school children walked past a military checkpoint Sunday as a bomb-loaded truck veered toward them and exploded, ending the lives of 14 young Afghans in a heartbreaking flash captured by a military security camera.’ The video shows an SUV slowly weaving through sandbag barriers at a military checkpoint just as a line of school children, most wearing white caps, comes into view. They walk along a pathway between the street and a wall, several of them pausing for a few seconds in a group before moving forward again. The vehicle moves toward the security camera while the children walk in the opposite direction, nearly passing the SUV when the footage ends in a fiery blast. Photos of the bombing’s aftermath showed bloodied text books lying on the ground beside small pairs of shoes. A doctor at a hospital near the blast, said the children were aged 8 to 10. U.S. Gen. David McKiernan, the top NATO commander in Afghanistan, said he believes the militant network run by warlord Siraj Haqqani was responsible for the attack. ‘The brutality and disregard for human life by terrorists is sickening, as I continue to witness innocent men, women and children being killed and maimed in the pursuit of this pointless insurgency,’ McKiernan said in a statement. The blast in Khost province came only hours after a late-night rocket attack in Kabul on Saturday killed three teenage sisters. McNorton said that attack ‘also reminds us of the true impact this conflict has on those who play no part in it.’ The year has also been the deadliest for NATO soldiers since the 2001 invasion to oust the Taliban. In the south, a roadside bomb killed two Canadian soldiers and two Afghans working alongside them in a dangerous region of southern Afghanistan, Canada’s military said Sunday. In addition to those killed in Saturday’s roadside bomb attack, four Canadian soldiers and one Afghan interpreter were wounded, the military said. NATO officials have said that Canadian troops have suffered more deaths per capita than any other foreign military in the country. More than 100 Canadians have been killed.”
Canadian troops, it was being acknowledged all over the world, were suffering more deaths per capita than other foreign military in Afghanistan. Those who know Canada’s proud history of helping those who cannot help themselves, know that we own this statistic. We did more than our fair share in World Wars I and 2, in Korea and many other missions.
We aren’t just known around the world for how fiercely we play hockey. We are equally fierce in our protection of the children of the world. I know that some people who listen to my radio program enjoy emailing me and calling me names – right wing, far right wing and terms I won’t repeat. What aggravates them more than anything it seems, is my unflinching, unwavering support for our Canadians in Uniform who don’t need me to tell them about what went on in Afghanistan over that weekend, who don’t need me to tell them about 14 children who just wanted to go to school to find out whether or not they were advancing in life, when their lives were stolen by the forces of darkness who don’t believe in advancement, who don’t believe in progress, who don’t believe in human rights – who don’t just believe its ok to murder their own children, but its ok to celebrate it. They believe that dancing to celebrate life is a vice, but that dancing to celebrate death is a virtue.
This repulsive ideology which imprisons millions, is what our Canadian Military fought against. We won almost every one of our fights in Afghanistan. If the Canadians Forces were a sports team, they’d be considered a dynasty. More successful than Gretsky’s Oilers, or Joe Dimaggio’s Yankees or Rocket Richard’s Canadiens or Kenny Ploen’s Blue Bombers. Our Military doesn’t get the kind of publicity sports dynasties get. The Canadian media is coffin centric. If one of our soldiers comes home in a box, there will be publicity. If a member of our military rescues children who are being boxed in by medieval evil, that’s generally not considered worthy of the iris of the media lens. Thousands and thousands of children are advancing in Afghanistan and will have a better shot because of the Canadian men and women who make up our military. I make no apologies for supporting them. For me it’s not just national, not just about my citizenship. It’s personal. Not one member of my family would be alive today if it weren’t for the contributions made by Canadian men in uniform in World War II. Not one.
And whether or not you embrace or oppose what I have to say, you can fairly conclude that I would not be alive today, if it were not for what our Canadian troops did six decades ago, helping to liberate the countries of Europe where members of my family and many millions of others were marked for death. They were no different than those children in Afghanistan, who weren’t asking for much by Canadian standards. Those fourteen little kids in Afghanistan, on Sunday December 28, 2008, were looking for a simple sign that their lives were moving forward, from Grade 3 to Grade 4 and from Grade 4 to Grade 5. What kind of rotting, ridiculous excuse for a human being would even contemplate the idea of turning those 14 precious children into particles of dust? And what particle of humanity is coursing through the veins of the political parasites in our country who try to convince our countrymen that what our troops have done in Afghanistan doesn’t really make a difference? This is a free country, and they have the right to say it and the right to campaign on it. But I too have a right to speak my mind.
I am a son of Canada. And I also happen to be one grandson of a great old gal by the name of Elizabeth who told me back in the days when she was able to speak to me over tea, that if I ever encountered a Canadian soldier active or retired that I should thank them for her life. Thank you Soldier. On behalf of Grandma Elizabeth and all the other fine men and women who are as grateful as she is, I want to say that no Canadian in uniform died in vain in 2008 or any year. Not one drop of Canadian blood has been shed on those distant battlefields in vain. Every one of those missions had a purpose. It was always centered on defending the defenceless, containing the callous, and restraining the ruthless.
God bless our sons and daughters who serve in the Canadian Military. God bless the Canadian Military that has given millions of children in Afghanistan and many millions in the course of human history the opportunity to have a life and to have the opportunity of creating new lives. We have an outfit called Statistics Canada. They have statistics on everything I’m told. But there is one statistic they do not have- the amount of people who are alive today because of the noble deeds of our military. I can assure you the number is more than ten times the population of Canada. I don’t say this because I’m a patriotic Canadian. I say this because I know that I owe my very existence to them and have been blessed to meet many others who I have this in common with.
How do I pay the Canadian military the debt I owe them? The most honest answer I can say to you is this – I can never repay the debt. I owe them everything and then some.
What do we as a country owe them? Our most profound respect and gratitude.
If you are serving in a Canadian uniform anywhere in the world, or if you ever have, or you are the mother or father or sister or brother or grandmother or grandfather of a Canadian Forces member, please accept our Thank You from coast to coast to coast for your family’s service to the Canada. God Bless the Canadian Army, the Royal Canadian Navy, The Royal Canadian Air Force and all the families who support them. In thy son’s command, we stand on guard for thee.
I’m Charles Adler