Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Oh Canada - Vigilamus pro te

Today is Canada's 141st birthday. Don't we look good? lol.. Today, on this Canada Day, I am thinking even more than usual about our military. As everybody must know, we have troops in Afghanistan and in other hot spots. As we here in Canada celebrate our freedoms, be it with bbq's and fireworks, our men and women are serving our country, and facing dangers so that we don't have to.

I am blessed to know a number of Canadian soldiers and veterans, and have made it a point to write about them and their mission quite a few times over on Tanker Bros. At the end of last year, I named General Rick Hillier one of my Heroes of the year, alongside US General David Petraeus. In case you missed that one (gasp! lol) you can read it here. I also wrote about General Hillier when he resigned as Chief of Defence Staff here.

General R.J. Hillier, C.M.M., M.S.C., C.D

Chief of the Defence Staff

General R.J. Hillier, CMM, CD

Today is General Hillier's last day on the job as our Chief of Defence Staff. He is set to take over as the Chancellor of Memorial University in Newfoundland. He has served our military and our country well, and all Canadians owe him a great deal of gratitude for his service. I wish only great things for him and his family in the future.

Lt.-Gen. Walt Natynczyk is one of the top candidates to replace outgoing Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Rick Hillier.
Lt.-Gen. Walt Natynczyk
Matthew Fisher/Canwest News Service

Lt. General Walt Natynczyk is the man who takes over as Chief of Defence Staff. He is no slouch:

Lt.-Gen. Natynczyk has the experience; he is one of the few Canadian soldiers to have served in Iraq. He also shares Gen. Hillier's ability to communicate; as a colonel, Lt.-Gen. Natynczyk was given the job in 1999 as the chief Canadian Forces spokesman for the NATO-led air war in Kosovo....

Lt.-Gen. Natynczyk is a veteran of numerous peacekeeping stints in the Balkans in the 1990s, including as a commander, but he also distinguished himself by serving as a deputy commander of the U.S. army's III Corps at Fort Hood, Texas, part of a unique exchange program with the United States.

Gen. Hillier and Lt.-Gen. Natynczyk are among only three Canadian officers to take part in that exchange program, and the experience allowed both to hold a senior position on the largest U.S. military base, which at 60,000 strong, is roughly the size of the entire Canadian Armed Forces.

In 2004, Lt.-Gen. Natynczyk was also deployed to Iraq for one year following the U.S.-led invasion and served as the deputy commander of the Multinational Corps there. "Even though I am a contingent of one, I am able to attend some senior forums and proudly show the flag," Lt.-Gen. Natynczyk wrote in one dispatch back to Hillier, reflecting on the fact that he was taking part in a military mission that his county had refused to support.

In his current post, Lt.-Gen. Natynczyk has been charged with implementing the Forces ambitious restructuring plans, the so-called "transformation" that Gen. Hillier began....[here]

Lt. Gen. Natynczyk has already served our country well, and I am sure he will continue to be an ardent advocate for our military in his new role.

So yes, there are changes today, but also one major constant. As we here at home celebrate our nation's birthday, we would do well to be mindful of the men and women throughout our history who have stood on guard for us. Another constant, for me, is that I will always honour our troops who ensure we have a free country. I stand on guard - with gratitude, WITH all our troops.


O Canada!
Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons command.

With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!

From far and wide,
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

(and yes, go here for more on the history of our national anthem)

Cross-posted at Tanker Bros and Miss Beth's Victory Dance.

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