Writer’s of Canadian History state that Canada became a nation through its participation and the maiming and death of its soldiers during the Great War of 1914 to 1918. This was to be the war to end all wars.
Today with the recent death of John Babcock, the last surviving Canadian soldier, the page has turned as there are no remaining veterans of that war. Although John Babcock’s participation was minimal and he moved away from his native land, in recent years he had become the image of that war’s Canadians who rallied to the call of duty that was sent out across Canada to fight for King and Country.
I was born in a time that there were many veterans and both world wars in my life. My father’s brother, a bugler, suffered the effects of mustard gas poisoning. Although he was able to gain some fame as a landscape artist in the North East and Great Lakes the effects of the war never allowed him to lead a full life. I remember seeing him before he died in 1948 and the image has stayed with me all my life.
Today I feel the linkage between John Babcock, my uncle John Dunn and the many veterans I have meet.
In 1904 Sir Wilfred Laurier said, "The nineteenth century was the century of the United States," ……. "I think that we can claim that it is Canada that shall fill the twentieth century."
Laurier would not have foreseen Canada suffering a 40% casualty rate and 67,000 deaths in a war ten years later. A high cost for nationhood.
I will say a prayer today for those who gave so much for the enjoyment I have as a Canadian in this century.