Padres Letter Remembrance Day 2012:
Comrades at Branch 112, I regret that I am not able to attend our Remembrance parade this year due to Remembrance Day falling on a Sunday. Today, I am on parade with my Regiment at the Cenotaph in York Cemetery in North York. And we with be joining your comrades at Branch 66 for a reception following the parade.
I know that your parade will be in keeping with the finest traditions of Remembrance.
The following is the text of my reflection for Remembrance 2012. Thank you for the privilege of allowing me to serve as your Padre.
Address Captain, the Reverend. Philip C. Ralph, CD
Padre, 32 Combat Engineer Regiment
God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” This past May I had the privilege of planning, taking 20 Canadian Afghanistan Veterans, as Program Director of WoundedWarriors.ca, of the Veterans were struggling with how that war had affected them. We went to a place commemorating a battle of almost a century ago. A place that many see as a place critical to our nation’s identity and history, a place called Vimy. A place that I would encourage all Canadians to visit, soil that is sacred in our nation’s history and memory.
I began that service with these words, “Welcome to Canada” I choose the phrase from Exodus where God said to Moses as he encountered God on Horeb “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.”
At Vimy, the history books state that Canada became a nation.
I am personally relived that this year there are no new names that have been added to Canada’s Role of Honour as we officially call the Fallen yet as I stood at Vimy and traveled through the historic battlefields of the Somme and Passchendaele, I could not be more moved by the sheer scope of loss and the hardness of the hearts of humanity. I conducted services not only at Vimy but also Beaumont Hamel where the Royal Newfoundland Regiment was decimated and thus the male population of Newfoundland in minutes on July 1st 1916, I also conducted a service at Dieppe a place where one man, a Chaplain Padre John Foote brought hope exposing himself to danger again and again to minister to the wounded and the dying, an act for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross.
One thing is clear there will be as long as humanity exists in this realm wars and rumours of wars. Why then in the face of such loss up to and including Since the Afghanistan mission which began in 2002, claiming the lives of 158 members of the Canadian Forces have been killed along with Four Canadian civilians including one diplomat, one journalist and two aid workers do we honour our men and women?
Our young veterans who have served our nation in places of great conflict over the past two decades, as have Canadians in places of conflict before them have left in our nation families that we be forever changed; some by the loss of a loved one, some have had their loved ones return broken, some physically and many psychologically and emotionally scared.
Canadian are called in this broken world to defend, model and project Canadian Values
Two years ago I said: “As the Canadian combat role winds done after almost a decade in Afghanistan we will leave it to the politicians and the public to debate the questions of success and shortcomings of the mission. YET, this one thing I know the Canadian soldier who served there, the Canadians who fought there, the Canadians who bear the scars of their service, and the Canadians who died there fought in that great tradition that has always been the hallmark of Canadian soldier confronting tyranny and being on the vanguard of freedom while coming to the aid of others. They responded to their needs of others with duty, honour and with courage. We who still serve are indebted to their service. And so we pick up the time honoured refrain:
Take up our quarrel with the foe: To you from failing hands we throw The torch; be yours to hold it high. If ye break faith with us who die We shall not sleep, though poppies grow In Flanders fields.
That warrior's code is reflected in the Army ethos and so we are left pick up the torch and continue to serve with duty, loyalty, integrity and courage.