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By Maj Jesse Hollington

Eternal vigilance
A responsibility—to ourselves and our cadets—to remember

The price of freedom is

eternal vigilance —Thomas Jefferson

Those who cannot remember

the past are condemned to
repeat it. —George Santayana

f there is a fundamental responsibili-

I ty for us as members of a military
organization and citizens of a free
routine of assuming that
it can never happen again.
In such a mindset, we find
country, it is to ensure that we never ourselves forgetting that we
allow ourselves to forget the great enjoy these comforts because of the
sacrifices of the past. sacrifices made by thousands of men
and women during not one, but two
On June 6, 1944, hundreds of
Canadian soldiers participated in the world wars. could enjoy freedom. It understands
Allied invasion at Normandy Beach. Further, the ideological complications the price that was paid—and the
This invasion was conducted against of the many conflicts on the interna- reason that price had to be paid—
heavily fortified German positions tional scene have produced a genera- because its people lived through it.
and against incredible odds. This tion of individuals who would have us
was the turning point in a war that We are the inheritors of this legacy
believe that by remembering these and should do ourselves and our
had ravaged most of Europe and was sacrifices we are only glorifying war.
the first significant victory against the forefathers proud by ensuring that
The result is that many in society con- we remember their sacrifices with
German war machine. tinue to lose their memory in a wash the same pride.
But this victory came with a price— of misguided social consciousness.
Each Nov. 11, we take time to
most of these soldiers did not come
In 1990, I was selected to participate remember those who gave every-
back. The sacrifices of these solders
in an international air cadet exchange thing to preserve our freedom. As
have become almost legendary, but
to the Netherlands. One single defin- Cadet Program leaders, we have an
we must never lose sight of the fact
ing memory of that experience is the opportunity to ensure that our cadets
that these soldiers were not super-
total strangers who, upon realizing not only remember, but also help
heroes. Rather, they were normal
that I was Canadian, came up to me others understand the sacrifices
everyday men, who believed in the
and thanked me for the sacrifices of made and why they were necessary. I
cause of freedom for which they were
my nation and my ancestors. It was a believe it is this duty to which John
fighting and committed themselves to
sobering experience to realize that McCrae speaks in this line from his
drawing a line against the darkness
these were people who had lived famous poem “In Flanders Fields”—
that had plagued most of Europe. “To you from failing hands we throw,
Most of these soldiers were boys— through a fascist occupation and who
genuinely saw our Canadian soldiers the torch; be yours to hold it high….”
younger than our senior cadets.
as the liberators of their country. One To remember these sacrifices is not
In the intervening 60 years, it seems elderly Dutch man said to me in halt- to glorify war, but to celebrate peace
that we as a society have collectively ing English, “We owe your people a by ensuring that we prize freedom
forgotten or downplayed these con- debt that can never be repaid.” and remain always ready to draw the
tributions as being of little signifi- line against oppression.
cance. Today we have the luxury of The Netherlands is a place that
living in a free society that seems remembers—that does not allow its Maj Hollington is the commanding
untouched by the tyranny of the past sons and daughters to forget the great officer of 707 Air Cadet Squadron
and have fallen into a comfortable sacrifices that ensured its people in Etobicoke, Ont.

Professional Development for Leaders of the Cadet Program 33