On November 11th, Canadians wear poppies and gather at war memorials across their country to pay tribute to those who died in war. This site is a remembrance to all the forgotten young Canadians who crossed the border during the Vietnam era and joined the American military to become warriors against communist tyranny for the world during the Cold War.
On Canada's Remembrance Day of 2005, I happened upon an essay in a Canadian newspaper that touched my heart. Afterwards, I searched for information on Canada's "North Wall", a Vietnam Veterans' Memorial, and found almost nothing about it. Therefore, this year, I decided to post my own "remembrance" for Remembrance Day 2006. Earl McRae wrote in "The Ottawa Sun" of 11 November 2005:
"There'll be words spoken in the cold November air about our brave soldiers who fought and died in World War I and World War II and the Korean War, but there'll be no words spoken about the long and terrible and bloody conflict known as the Vietnam War. There'll be invited ambassadors with wreaths for the laying from countries that are our military allies, and from countries that were once our military enemies. There'll be invited military personnel from countries that are our allies, and from countries that were once our enemies.
"It will not be mentioned that among those whose sacrifice is being commemorated, who fought and who died in Canada's 20th century wars, were Americans; Americans who chose to fight in the uniform of another country, our country. They, too, are being honoured this morning by Canada, but Canada is not honouring, and has not respected, the thousands of young Canadians who crossed the border to sign up for the Vietnam War wearing the uniform of the United States of America."
On that day, Canada's Remembrance Day of 2005, the Canadian government had no sentiments of gratitude for the 20,000 or so fellow Canadians who served, nor for the 103 young Canucks who died, fighting for freedom and against communism during the Vietnam War. Flowery words were spoken about brave soldiers who fought and died in World War I and World War II and the Korean War, but there were no words spoken about the long, bloody Cold War conflict known as the Vietnam War. Ambassadors from nations of former allies and former enemies alike were invited to lay wreaths in commemoration of the sacrifices made by those who died in Canada's 20th century wars, including Americans who chose to fight in the uniform of a foreign country, Canada. They, along with Canadian soldiers, were honored on Canada's Remembrance Day. However, Canada refused to honor and respect the thousands of its own citizens who crossed the border to don the military uniform of the United States of America and fight against the world-wide scourge of communism during the Cold War.
During the era of the Vietnam War, the Canadian government severely cut back her Armed Forces, resulting in tens of thousands of young Canadians crossing the border to join up with the American military. One of these Canadians won the Congressional Medal of Honor. Today, Canada points with pride to the fact that they welcomed with open arms, America's military deserters and draft evaders, yet they do not acknowledge their own citizens who fought against the evils of communism during the Cold War. To date, no official recognition has ever been paid to those Canadians who volunteered to fight for freedom for others and against tyranny in the Vietnam War. A former Public Works Minister, David Dingwall, was once quoted in a letter stating: "No federal site will be provided for such a monument because the Vietnam conflict was not a Canadian war" ("Share the Voice"). Canada and many Canadians are unaware that Canadians volunteered to fight in Vietnam, while at the same time forgetting that Canada provided logistical support for America's war effort. During the Vietnam era, as the Canadian economy boomed, the Canadian people were led to self-righteously believe that the manna (American dollars) falling from the southern sky was their heavenly reward for being peaceful folk.
Canada, who claimed to be neutral during the Vietnam War, permitted some 30,000 American draft dodgers and deserters into the country as landed immigrants. Canada claimed that the Canadians who signed on with U.S. forces during the Vietnam War were violating Canada's Foreign Enlistment Act of 1937, while at the same time Canada's economy profited by providing America's military machine about $3 billion worth of war materiel; guns, grenades,aircraft engines, military vehicles, boots, berets, napalm, agent orange and on and on (Canadian Businesses with U.S. Department of Defense Contracts 1967-1972). Canada, who opposed Canadians joining the U.S. military to fight, is the same Canada whose own peace commission delegates overseas willingly worked as spies for the CIA. Canada who claims to have taken a pass on Vietnam, permitted U.S. bombers to practice carpet-bombing in Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Finally, a war memorial commemorating the fallen Canadian soldiers was erected by a small group of American veterans from Michigan. Since then, Canadians have been surprised to learn that some of their own countrymen served with Americans in Vietnam. Most returning Canadian Vietnam veterans learned early on, not to recount their experiences with the American military. Few Canadians wanted to know about it, and fewer still could understand why any Canadian would have volunteered to fight for freedom, much less for others in a foreign country's war.
Near the U.S. border there is one memorial, The North Wall, at Assumption Park, Windsor, Ontario, overlooking the Detroit River. It honors the 103 Canadians who lost their lives in Vietnam and the seven who went missing in action. It is a fine tribute to those Canadians who served and sacrificed all for their belief in freedom.
The North Wall images appearing on these North Wall pages are from the 2005 Canadian Vietnam Memorial ceremony which featured the travelling "Wall That Heals". They are subject to copyright by World War II veteran, George Mock (gmockrcpilot).