The recent letter from Carol Tracey titled “We must remember the animals that served” has prompted me to write about an aspect of Remembrance Day that most civilians are totally unaware of.
It is the military concept of “unlimited liability.” It means military members are subject to being lawfully ordered into harm’s way under conditions that will almost certainly lead to the loss of their lives.
When a person signs up for military duty they surrender certain rights, due to the very nature of military service. One of those rights lost means they can not refuse a lawful command, even if it means almost certain death. No health-care workers are subject to this, no first responders, or search and rescue, not even firefighters or police officers are subject to unlimited liability.
Even though police and firefighters carry out extremely dangerous operations, having their members seriously injured or killed is never an intended part of a plan. Not so with the military.
Although it’s not been a common occurrence in modern conflicts, it was very common in the Korean war, the Second World War and in particular the First World War, when troops were ordered by the thousands over the tops of trenches into heavy machine gun fire. It is during this period the vast majority of Canada’s 100,000 war dead, that we celebrate on Remembrance Day, were killed.
Further, soldiers would have been away from home and loved ones for many months and even years before they died. Usually in living in conditions that at best were austere and at worst were filthy, disease-ridden conditions that accounted for more deaths than from the enemy.
Remembrance Day is to honour our war dead and those that served in war. The problem is the word war has become a euphemism for to many things. War on drugs, war on crime, war poverty and now the pandemic war.
I have four health-care workers, one firefighter and three retired police officers among my family and friends. And I say to them what I’ll say to you. You do a great job and I appreciate it, but if you think what you have experienced during this pandemic comes anywhere near real war, you’ve lost your mind.
As for Carol Tracey’s letter. She wants animals included in Remembrance Day services. I don’t know what to say. She gives the example of a rat trained to detect land mines. The rat was given a decoration for “gallantry” by some animal lovers. Look up the definition of gallantry.
The rat would of had to cognitively recognize a deadly threat to itself and someone or something else. Then it would of had to make a cognitive decision to place itself in danger for the sole purpose of saving the other animal or person. The rat and service dogs alike are simply performing a task learned by rote for a reward such as food or praise by their handler.
I served 24 years in the Canadian Army. I have known and worked with over a dozen soldiers who have given their lives while serving their country. Three of them were my good friends. I think of them often.
To think that the most hallowed day of the year in a soldiers life would be desecrated with the inclusion of animals is nothing less than a betrayal. Black Lives Matters has complained about people who were trying to be inclusive by saying White Lives Matters, as being insensitive and disrespectful to their cause. If that is true for BLM then it’s true a hundred times over for Remembrance Day.
If some people want to fight a cause for animal cruelty, fine do it at another time and another place. If I am ever attending a Remembrance Day ceremony and they start talking about animals, I will walk off the parade. I would rather come back after dark in freezing rain by myself, to remember my friends and the fallen, than to be around a bunch of people trying to out virtue signal each other.
Tom Duke (Sgt., Ret’d),