Veterans’ Dignity Ceremony at the National War Memorial Was Anything but ‘Repugnant’

Veterans’ Dignity Ceremony at the National War Memorial Was Anything but ‘Repugnant’
The National War Memorial in Ottawa in a file photo. (Jonathan Ren/The Epoch Times)

Corporal (Ret’d) Chris Deering is a combat-wounded veteran of Canada’s war in Afghanistan. During his tour in 2008, while traversing one of the more hostile areas in the south of the country, the Taliban targeted his Light Armoured Vehicle for an IED attack. When the bomb went off, the force of the explosion was so great that it threw his 18-ton vehicle a full 75-80 feet in the air and left a crater the full width of the two-lane road that was just as deep.

Chris’s three crewmates died instantly at the scene, making him the sole survivor of the attack. The other members of his unit found him with his face smashed in by his equipment, his foot fully rotated to the rear, bleeding from his eyes, ears, everywhere. He was medevac’d to Bagram Air Base, and eventually flown to Germany where he was put in a medically induced coma for over a week. Among his injuries were two collapsed lungs, a traumatic brain injury, and multiple fractures in his face, foot, ankle, as well as 30 percent of his vertebrae.

Upon his return to Canada, and after taking the time needed to recover, Chris remarkably went on to serve another eight years, in a supporting role. For being wounded in action, he became one of only 1,050 living Canadians to earn the Sacrifice Medal.

After his retirement, Chris lived a peaceful life with his loving wife and two children. Like others, their concern for the events over the last two years inspired them to focus more on family, and they spent much of their time in the woods, with their RV. Like others, Chris considered pursuing a more solitary life with his family, hunkering down for what lies ahead.

He would have persisted in this quiet tranquility, surrounded by loved ones, but he heard the call of duty once more, with the start of the Freedom Convoy 2022. He travelled to Ottawa, where he assisted his fellow veterans in the removal of the fencing around the National War Memorial, erected by the state in an effort to use the monument as a prop to smear dissenters. When the police line formed on Feb. 18, Chris and his fellow veterans formed a line in front of peaceful protesters, in a show of solidarity, in liberty.

As the police advanced, Chris continued to hold the line, even after his Sacrifice Medal was broken. He held his broken medal in the air and made a principled, passionate appeal to the better angels of the officers’ nature. He gave a detailed account of the injuries he incurred, and the lives that were lost, in his service to the principles for which he now stood before them. For his transgression against the state, Chris was tackled, kneed to the ground, and kicked in his pinned leg while down. While prone, his injured neck and back were knelt upon, his hands were tied behind his back, and he was left outdoors for hours in minus 20-degree weather—and denied his medication—before being driven to the city limits and told not to return.

As word of Chris’s ordeal—and that of his fellow veterans—spread through the veteran community, many began to galvanize around a plan to hold an event at the War Memorial. Chris’s own group, Veterans 4 Freedom, initiated Operation Dignity, to plan and support a wreath-laying ceremony. The stated purpose of the ceremony, held in April, was to restore dignity to the monument following its desecration by the state. With the support of Rolling Thunder, a U.S.-based advocacy group founded to bring full accountability for POWs, the parade leading up to the War Memorial was planned as a motorcycle rally. After receiving full approval for the parade route, the City of Ottawa yanked its approval at the last minute, and the veterans were only allowed to take their parade around Confederation Park and not the War Memorial, as previously agreed upon.

Still, for the most part, the veterans were permitted to gather peaceably, and even speak at the monument itself. As Chris approached the microphone, the Master of Ceremonies and fellow Sacrifice Medal recipient, Neil Sheard, told the large crowd: “Chris will be laying the wreath. He will be taking back this monument for all Canadians, and all veterans.” Soon after taking the mic, Chris reinforced that the ceremony was “to give back the dignity to our fallen that was unfairly taken away from us.”

“The National War Memorial is a cenotaph symbolizing the sacrifice of all Canadian Armed Forces personnel who have served Canada in wartime, in the cause of freedom—past, present, and future,” he said. He told his story of the Freedom Convoy and what happened during the police operation to end the protest. “On February 18th, I stood with our people to protect what was a loving, peaceful, lawful protest. I displayed my Sacrifice Medal. I was dragged down, kicked in my back, kneed in my side, punched in my face multiple times, while my hands were up…”

Recent media commentaries, however, have described the peaceful attempt by Chris Deering and his fellow veterans to reclaim their dignity and that of the War Memorial as “repugnant” or a politicization of sacred monuments.

It is worth reflecting on the insights gained from those who fought in wars, over the critics on the sidelines, at times elders. One such elder was American psychologist and eugenicist Henry Goddard, who invented new terms for those who enlisted: moron, idiot, and imbecile. Ernest Hemingway, who served as an ambulance driver, said the Great War “was the most colossal murderous, mismanaged butchery that has ever taken place on earth.” He wrote that the wisdom of his elders, who had not fought a war themselves, was a “great fallacy”: “They do not grow wise. They grow careful.” F. Scott Fitzgerald, who dropped out of Princeton to join the army, wrote contemptuously of his elders as well: “Men of 50 had the gall to tell veterans of 30 how to behave.”

The gall indeed.

Chris Deering and Tom Quiggin, the author of this piece, are members of Veterans 4 Freedom.
Views expressed in this article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.
(Ret’d) Captain Tom Quiggin (MA, CD) served in the war in Bosnia and Croatia. Following that, he worked for the Privy Council Office (Intelligence Assessment Secretariat) and was an intelligence contractor for the RCMP (Integrated National Security Enforcement Team) for over six years. He is a court expert in terrorism and was a senior fellow at Nanyang Technical University. His research interests focus on the roots of extremism in democratic societies.
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