Archive for May 2008

UNDERGROUND RAILROAD

May 31, 2008

 

                The Underground Railroad was an informal network of secret routes and safe houses, used in the 19th century by black slaves in the United States to escape to either Free states or Canada.  The Underground Railroad was not literally underground and it wasn’t a railroad either, “underground” meant secret, and “railroad” was the hidden terminology.  Escaped slaves would move along the route from one “station” to the next, “stations” was coded meaning resting spots where they would sleep and eat during the day to avoid being captured by slave hunters.  Many people associated with the Underground Railroad only knew their small part of the operation and not the whole scheme.

Hundreds of slaves obtained freedom to the North every year.  The “conductors” who ultimately moved the runaways from station to station, would sometimes act as if they were actually a slave and enter a plantation, then they would direct the fugitives to the North. The slaves would travel about 10–20 miles (15–30 km) per night sometimes by boat, train, or wagon, yet mostly on foot. When they would stop at the so-called “stations” or “depots”, a message was sent to the next station to let the station master know the runaways were on their way.  Money was donated by many people to help buy tickets and even clothing for the fugitives so they would remain unnoticeable.  Many fugitive bondsmen escaped via the Railroad and established livelihoods as free men, then they would later purchased their wives, children, and other family members out of slavery.

    

     People who helped slaves find the railroad were referred to as “agents” or “shepherds “, abolitionists were the ones who would “fix the tracks”, “Stationmasters” hid slaves in their homes, Escaped slaves were referred to as “passengers” or “cargo”, the Railroad itself was often known as the “freedom train” or “Gospel train”, which headed towards “Heaven” or “the Promised Land”—Canada.

SAPPER MIKE McTEAGUE and the Wounded Warriors Fund

May 29, 2008

 

www.woundedwarriors.ca

The Headlines read

Bike bomb kills 4 Canadian troops September 18, 2006 KABUL, Afghanistan

     Mike McTeague was one of the Canadian soldiers severely injured when a suicide bomber on a bicycle in Afghanistan blew himself up near NATO troops while they were handing out gifts to children.  The explosion killed four soldiers and wounded dozens of others, including civilians. Mike McTeague was one of the wounded, taking a ball bearing to the neck from the debris and was not expected to live.

     He miraculously defied death but was told he wouldn’t walk. Once again he beat the odds and regained mobility in both of his legs. Mike McTeague is now considered a “wounded warrior”.  Captain Wayne Johnston, and Mike’s father Sean McTeague were Senior NCO’s together many years earlier in the Infantry and maintained contact for over 30 years, when Mike was wounded his father asked Captain Johnston to be the assisting officer to accompany the Family to Germany.

     Upon return to Canada Captain Johnston continued assisting Mike and his Family. “Words cannot explain how humbling, emotional, and yet so rewarding being an assisting officer to one of the wounded has been. Suffice to say it has been the most important work I have done in my 33 years service.” said Johnston, “Mike was a miracle in that he wasn’t expected to live” (when the family goes to Germany it isn’t the best news). In general the soldiers stay in Germany no more than 2 weeks. They are then moved to a hospital in Canada. Depending on the wounds hospital stays can be a week or two or even months. They noticed in Germany that the troops had very little in the way of their own. More to the point they had little to pass the time in the way of electronics and entertainment, “they were basically staring at four walls”.

     In addition the support staff was spending out of their own pockets to get the little things in life. Thus, the Sapper Mike McTeague Wounded Warrior Fund was started – the fund supports all Canadian Forces members wounded during operations, at the outset of their healing process. It also aims to improve the general morale and welfare of the soldiers and their families by working through first-line caregivers, medical staff, chaplains and assisting officers. Hospitals that care for Canadian Forces personnel are equipped with a large library of, music, DVD’s and video games, an Internet-equipped laptop or computer, telephone services and Personal hospital TVs are also provided. As part of the project a small Padre’s Contingency Fund has also been established in Landstuhl Germany to aid in the morale of the soldiers. The purpose of the contingency fund is to provide the care givers in Germany the ability to give immediate assistance for items like clothing, a meal other than the (hum drum) hospital food, etc. While being a wounded soldier can be very stressful it can be equally stressful for the soldiers’ family, both mentally and financially. The Sapper Mike McTeague Wounded Warrior fund reduces this impact by augmenting existing CF support programs.  Mike still struggles to regain full mobility at St Johns Rehab Centre in Toronto to this day, he is 22 years old.

If you would like to donate to The Sapper Mike McTeague’s Wounded Warriors Fund, you can do so at www.woundedwarriors.ca

 

 

MARTIN LUTHER KING

May 29, 2008

     Martin Luther King Junior was born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1929, he was an African-American clergyman who supported social change through non-violent means. A powerful speaker and a man of great spiritual strength, he shaped the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s.

 

     King was pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama from 1954-59.  He successfully led blacks in the Montgomery bus boycott of 1955-56.  After the boycott ended, King returned to his home town of Atlanta and became co-pastor with his father of the Ebenezer Baptist Church, a position he held until his death.

 

     On the 100th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in 1963, King organized an equal rights march in Washington, D.C. that drew 200,000 people. In a speech that day King said:

 “In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.”  “We cannot walk alone.” 

 

     King won the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize, becoming at the time the youngest recipient ever.

Martin Luther King Jr. Was assassinated by James Earl Ray on April 4, 1968. He was 39 years old.

MOHANDAS KARAMCHAND GANDHI (Mahatma Gandhi)

May 28, 2008

 

     Mahatma Gandhi was born in British-India in 1869, he was a major political and spiritual leader of India.  As a young man he moved to England to study law and after being admitted to the bar, he accepted a position in South Africa. While traveling to South Africa in the first-class section of the train, he was asked by a white man to leave. This experience of racial discrimination led him down the path of political activism and shortly after he pioneered the Satyagraha philosophy, which he based on truth and resistance to evil through active, non-violent resistance.

      Gandhi began his inspirational movement in South Africa, teaching peaceful civil disobedience in the Indian community’s struggle for civil rights and he continued the movement upon his return to India. He took over leadership of the Indian National Congress and led nationwide campaigns for the relief of poverty, for the liberation of women, for brotherhood amongst different religious and ethnic groups, for an end to caste discrimination, and for the economic self-sufficiency of the nation, but above all for Swaraj (the independence of India from foreign domination).

     Gandhi led his nation in the disobedience of the British salt tax imposed in India and he led an open call for the British to Quit India in 1942. He was imprisoned for many years on numerous occasions in both South Africa and India.

     Gandhi practiced and advocated non-violence and truth in all situations. He lived simply, making his own clothes, while living on a simple vegetarian and, later, fruitarian diet. He underwent long (at times over a month) fasts, for both self-purification and protest. Mohandas (Mahatma) Gandhi was assassinated in 1948, he was 78 years old.

Cpl Matt Dinning and Cpl Randy Payne

May 27, 2008

Military Police Support the Troops Pin


1 Military Police Platoon Association (1 MP PL Assoc) recently launched the
Military Police Support the Troops commemorative pin. The idea behind this
pin is to recognized the supreme efforts made by our brave men and women of
the Military Police branch. This pin recognizes our current serving and
especially our recently fallen members Cpl Matt Dinning and Cpl Randy
Payne. All profits realized from the sale of these pins will be used to
support a memorial trust fund.

Please support this great cause. If you wish to place a pin order, please
get further details at http://www.1mppla.ca. This pin has received a very
favorable response from the public, current serving and retired MPs.

If you wish to view the Provost Marshal’s website please visit……….

http://www.vcds.forces.gc.ca/cfpm/intro_e.asp

Regards,

Bob Smith

ELEANOR ROOSEVELT

May 27, 2008

 

     Eleanor Roosevelt was born in New York, New York in 1884. She was First Lady of the United States from 1933-45, during the four presidential terms of her husband, Franklin D. Roosevelt. She was active in social work and Democratic politics even before her husband became president. Eleanor Roosevelt was a new kind of First Lady: she traveled the country without her husband, visited coal miners and factory workers, she wrote newspaper columns and opinion pieces, visited soldiers overseas during World War II, and sided with the poor.

            After her husbands passing, she continued on lecturing and writing about racial equality, women’s rights and world peace. She was also an American delegate in the founding days of the United Nations.  Eleanor completely changed the way the First Lady was traditionally fashioned. She gave a voice to people who did not have access to power. She was the first woman to speak in front of a national convention, to write a syndicated column, to earn money as a lecturer, to be a radio commentator and to hold regular press conferences. However her greatest influences came in civil rights, while traveling around the country, she developed a very good understanding on racial relations.

            During World War II, Eleanor insisted that America could not fight racism anywhere else while accepting it at home. Her continued battle led to greater opportunities for blacks in factories, shipyards, at home and in the armed forces.  She wanted America to “get away from considering a man or woman from the point of view of religion, color or sex.” People loved her, and called her ”the first lady of the world.”  Eleanor became a delegate to the United Nations and chaired the Human Rights Commission while they drafted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. She had 6 children, 5 boys and a girl, although one son died young.  She was a very determined and passionate woman. Eleanor Roosevelt once said, ”No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

Eleanor Roosevelt died in 1962, she was 78 years old.

SIR WINSTON CHURCHILL

May 26, 2008

 

      Sir Winston Churchill was, without a doubt, one of the greatest men of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He was a soldier, a writer, and (quite possibly because he was a soldier first), a Great War leader. Although he was an extraordinary politician, statesman, and Prime Minister, it is important to understand and know that he was a politician who had had a bumpy career. 

     It took time and circumstances for his greatness to emerge. He had switched parties twice, starting out conservative, then switching to liberal, and back to conservative again. After much affliction he joined the Army and went into battle commanding a battalion in the trenches. He was the only politician of his stature to serve in the trenches in World War I. Between the wars he was assigned to politics and in 1932 he gave a speech about the growing tension with Germany. He was disregarded and considered a warmonger. He was right though and it was the resume of his life that made him uniquely qualified to lead Britain through the Second World War.

     When he took over as Prime Minister of Britain in 1940 the situation was brutal. The British Army was in very bad shape after a retreat from Dunkirk, when they severely underestimated the superior German army. They fled to Dunkirk, abandoning equipment and leaving the road to Dunkirk littered with empty vehicles and piles of gear. The British estimated they had about two days to evacuate, but when the British ships showed up to carry the troops across the channel, they found the harbour too shallow for most of the ships to reach the shore. Almost 500,000 men were stranded on the beach, and Nazi bombers began to attack from the air. The British government sent out a request for all persons with seaworthy vessels to help in the evacuation; great numbers of fishing boats, lifeboats, paddle steamers and yachts came across the English Channel to save the British army!

     What really made a huge impact was Churchill’s decision to turn the whole event into a symbol of bravery and perseverance. When the soldiers arrived in Britain, they were given a heroes welcome, with parades and cheering crowds, “we might have been the heroes of some great victory, instead of a beaten army, returning home, having lost most of its equipment”, one returning soldier had said. Sir Winston Churchill died in 1965, after a lifetime of service to his country. He was 90 years old.

FRANCIS PEGAHMAGABOW

May 25, 2008

 

     Francis Pegahmagabow was born near Parry Sound, Canada in 1891, he was the most highly decorated Canadian Native in the First World War. An Ojibwa from the Parry Island Band; he was awarded the Military Medal (MM) plus two bars for bravery in Belgium and France. Soldiers who had been awarded the MM and later performed similarly heroic acts could receive up to two bars to it, showing further awards. Pegahmagabow was one of only 39 members of the CEF who received the maximum two bars to the MM.

     Pegahmagabow enlisted with the 23rd Regiment (Northern Pioneers) in August 1914 – almost immediately after war was declared. Within weeks of volunteering, he became one of the original members of the 1st Canadian Infantry Battalion, which, along with the rest of the 20,000-strong 1st Canadian Division, landed in France in February 1915.

     Sniping was his specialty; it has been written of him, “His iron nerves, patience and superb marksmanship helped make him an outstanding sniper.”  “Peggy”, as he was nicknamed, earned a reputation for being a superior scout. The 1st Battalion experienced “heavy action” almost as soon as it arrived on the battlefield. It fought at Ypres, where the enemy introduced a new deadly weapon, poison gas, and on the Somme, where Pegahmagabow was shot in the leg. He recovered and made it back in time to return with his unit to Belgium. In November 1917, the 1st Battalion joined the assault near the village of Passchendaele. Here, roughly 20,000 Allied soldiers crawled from shell crater to shell crater, through water and mud. With two British divisions, the Canadian Troops attacked and took the village, holding it for five days, until reinforcements arrived. The Allies suffered 16,000 casualties at Passchendaele. For his bravery shown “Peggy” earned his first bar to the MM and shortly after he received his second bar.

      In April 1919, Pegahmagabow was invalided to Canada, having served for nearly the entire war. Afterward, he joined the Algonquin Regiment in the non-permanent active militia and, following in the steps of his father and grandfather, became chief of the Parry Island Band and later a councilor. His grandson said of him:  “He was always saying how we have to live in harmony with all living things in this world.”

     Although he was treated as an equal among his fellow soldiers, he was very disappointed when he returned home to the Reserve after the war and discovered that attitudes hadn’t changed at all. He was still an Indian, and treated as a second-class citizen. For the rest of his life, Pegahmagabow spearheaded the cause of native rights, being one of the early activists in this long, exhausting battle to achieve the right of aboriginal peoples to control their own destiny.

 

     Francis Pegahmagabow, a member of Canada’s Indian Hall of Fame, died on the reserve in 1952, he was 61 years old.

AUNG SAN SUU KYI

May 22, 2008

     Aung San Suu Kyi, pronounced Un-song-Sue-Chee was born in Rangoon, Burma in 1945, she was the winner of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize for opposing the military regime in her homeland Burma, now named Myanmar. She went to school at Oxford University in England and lived a fairly quiet life until 1988 when she returned to her country and began a non-violent struggle for democracy against strongman Ne Win. Some may say bravery was in her blood. Her father U Aung San led Burma’s fight for independence from Great Britain after WWII; he paid with his life when he was assassinated by a political group, just a few months before independence was formally achieved.

     The government in Myanmar bans gatherings of larger than four people, but thousands gathered in defiance of that ban to hear Aung San Suu Kyi speak, in fact over 500,000 anti-government protesters gathered at the most sacred shrine in Rangoon to hear her speak, she told the crowd that they had a fundamental human right to choose their own government. By the next day an outpouring of people sharing the same passion became a full out democratic movement. Just before she was placed under house arrest in July 1989, she said: “Within a system which denies the existence of basic human rights, fear tends to be the order of the day, fear that masquerades as common sense or even wisdom, condemning as reckless, insignificant, or futile the small, daily acts of courage which help to preserve self-respect and inherent human dignity.” She spent six years under house arrest, with the government offering her freedom if she’d leave the country. She refused to leave until Myanmar was returned to civilian rule. She was finally released in July, 1995, and said: “I did not know what to feel. I said to myself, ‘Well, I’m free,’ but then I have always felt free. I did not really hanker for the great big world outside. I always felt that the important thing was to be able to live inside myself and feel free.”

     Even though she won 82 percent of her countries parliamentary seats, she was once again arrested and locked away on May 30th, 2003 after the regime’s militia attacked her convoy and killed up to 100 of her supporters.  They were attacked by the same military regime who has destroyed over 3000 villages in East Burma, forcing 1.5 million people from their homes, and raping 1000’s of women.  They have also recruited more child soldiers than any other country in the world.  Aung San Suu Kyi has been compared to a modern day Gandhi, or Mandela, she is a symbol of hope to people all over the world struggling to fight for what is right.  To date Aung San Suu Kyi has been detained in prison for over 12 years.  She is 62 years old.

 

 

SUSAN B. ANTHONY

May 21, 2008

 

     Susan B. Anthony was born in Adams, Massachusetts in 1820, she traveled, lectured and campaigned across America for the abolition of slavery and women’s rights.  She was one of the very first to fight for and gain voting rights for women, while refusing to submit to the many people who criticized and harassed her.

     She voted in an election in Rochester, New York and was charged, tried and convicted in 1873. She was ordered to pay a fine of $100 and court costs, which at that time was a lot of money.  In her speech following she said: “It was we, the people; not we, the white male citizens; nor yet we, the male citizens; but we, the whole people, who formed the Union. And we formed it, not to give the blessings of liberty, but to secure them; not to the half of ourselves and the half of our posterity, but to the whole people – women as well as men. And it is a downright mockery to talk to women of their enjoyment of the blessings of liberty while they are denied the use of the only means of securing them provided by this democratic-republican government – the ballot.”

     These words have had a lasting and profound influence on the freedoms we enjoy today in North America.