Was Canada Effective in World War II? ASK THE WORLD

I used to always state that Quora.com was a site where people could ask questions on any topic, and those who feel qualified attempt to answer them.¬† “It’s much like Yahoo! Answers”, I would further explain.¬† But it’s becoming increasingly clear that this is not a fair comparison.¬† ¬†It’s becoming more like a bunch of yahoos WITH answers making up answers.¬† And doing an even worse job with some of the questions.¬† Quora doesn’t make people stupid.¬† It just makes stupid people more accessible to the general public.¬† And as the old adage says – “stupidity is contagious, and there’s no known cure”.

The question popped up a few days ago, and I couldn’t believe it.¬† I also couldn’t keep quiet.¬† How dare the uneducated chatter class insult the memory of the tens of thousands of Canadians who gave their lives for our global freedom (yep, including the freedom of the brainwave that wrote this question, no matter where he or she lives).¬† This writer should be happy to discover that Canada was very effective in World War II, along with their Allied partners.¬† It’s why we aren’t speaking German or Japanese today.

WHAT FOLLOWS IS MY RESPONSE, word-for-word, to this highly controversial question.  Photos were later added for this blog article only.


You‚Äôll have to excuse my homeland of Canada – we were amiss apparently by not personally educating YOU on our war effectiveness from 1939‚Äď1945. Let‚Äôs fix that. There are a few people you should talk to:

  • Workman John Hawkins of Toronto checks the tags of Bren machine-guns at the John Inglis Co. plant in Toronto. Canada produced millions of arms for the Allied war effort. ¬© Archives Canada mikan-3197327

    ASK THE BRITISH  how effective we were. Before we even sent a single man, gun, plane, tank or ship Рwe made sure to take care of the British people themselves.  Remember, they live on an island, and risked being isolated by the Nazis, after the war started in September 1939.

    Canadian exports accounted for as much as 77% of British wheat and flour consumption in 1941, 39% of the bacon, 15% of the eggs, 24% of the cheese, and 11% of the evaporated milk that the British imported globally.

    Abandoned British equipment on the beach at Dunkirk. Although 340,000 troops were evacuated from Dunkirk, the British Army left behind: 120,000 vehicles, 600 tanks, 1000 field guns, 500 anti-aircraft guns, 850 anti-tank guns, 8000 Bren guns, 90,000 rifles and half a million tons of stores and ammunition. (Credit: LIFE Magazine, 1940)

    Britain also had to leave 75,000 of their 80,000 vehicles behind in the evacuation at Dunkirk in 1940. Virtually defenseless on the ground, Britain turned to Canada – and particularly the Canadian auto industry – to replace what had been lost. Canada not only replaced those losses – we also did much more.

    Canada produced more than 800,000 military transport vehicles, 50,000 tanks, 40,000 field, naval, and anti-aircraft guns, and 1,700,000 small arms. 38% of this production was used by the British military alone. The Canadian Army “in the field” had a ratio of one vehicle for every three soldiers, making it the most mechanized field force in the war.

    Canada also loaned $1.2 billion on a long-term basis to Britain immediately after the war; these loans were fully repaid in late 2006. That’s the equivalent of about $17.7 billion today.

  • Canadians landing at Juno Beach. (Credit: Le Conseil Regional De Basse-Normandie / Library and Archives Canada)

    ASK THE FRENCH how effective we were. On June 6, 1944, 14,000 Canadian troops stormed Juno Beach, arriving on 110 Canadian ships and supported by 10,000 Canadian sailors, part of 150,000 Allied troops total, who were part of the greatest invasion by sea in world history. Canada was the only nation that captured its beach and fulfilled all Her orders on D-Day. We suffered over 1,000 casualties that day alone.

    The French WILL tell you we were effective, by the way – they were occupied by the Germans for over 4 years – but then just 74 days after D-Day, we liberated Paris, and less than one year after D-Day, our little nation had assisted in bringing down the Third Reich completely – an empire that conquered 11 nations on 2 continents with 20 million battle-hardened troops, And Hitler was dead. Were we effective. They would shout a resounding ‚ÄúOui!‚ÄĚ

Dutch Ambassador to Canada, Dr. J.H. van Roijin and Mrs. van Roijin, greeting Dutch immigrants arriving by ship in Montreal, June 1947. (Credit: George Hunter / National Film Board of Canada. Photothèque / Library and Archives Canada / PA-123476)

ASK THE DUTCH how effective we were. Our country welcomed Queen Juliana, Prince Bernhard and the other members of the Dutch royal family as our guests for 5 years, after the Nazis invaded their Kingdom in June 1940. Dutch Princess Margriet was born in Ottawa Civic Hospital.

Later, Canada almost single-handedly liberated the Netherlands from the Nazis on May 9, 1945, and the Dutch still celebrate Liberation Day (unofficially called ‚ÄúCanada Day‚ÄĚ) with Canadian flags flying in Amsterdam on that day, citizens still running to give our aged soldiers flowers as they march or ride in parades there.

In a decades-old Dutch tradition, schoolchildren visit the Canadian War Cemetery in Holten, Netherlands on Christmas Eve every year, where nearly 1,400 Canadian soldiers are buried, and they place candles on every grave. More immigrants arrived in Canada in the 1950s from the Netherlands than from any other nation in the world, including America. In fact, the 2016 Canadian Census reported 1,111,655 persons of Dutch origin living in Canada out of 37 million Canadians. Did they find us effective? They would say ‚Äúja!‚ÄĚ

  • In fact, I’d even recommend ASKING THE GERMANS how effective we were. Particularly the German troops that were garrisoned at the town of Zwolle, in the Netherlands. Canadian soldier L√©o Major was the only Canadian and one of only three soldiers in the British Empire and Commonwealth to ever receive the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) twice in separate wars. In 1945, he single-handedly liberated the city of Zwolle, the Netherlands from German army occupation. He was sent as a scout with one of his best friends, but he thought the town was too beautiful for a full scale attack. So the next rational option was to clear it out himself. A firefight broke out and his friend was killed, but that didn‚Äôt stop him – he put the commanders of each group of soldiers he found at gunpoint, and the entire unit would end up being taken prisoner as a result. He ended up taking nearly 100 Germans prisoner that night, until the entire city was clear of Nazis. He received his second DCM during the Korean War for leading the capture of a key hill in 1951.

(Credit: Globe & Mail.)

Canada declared war in Germany just 7 days after Great Britain and France, and had troops in Europe literally weeks later. It would take a further 26 months before the United States would enter the War. By the time the War was over, Canada had over 1.1 million soldiers in uniform – about 33% of our entire adult male population.

At the end of the Second World War, Canada had one of the largest navies in the world, with 95,000 men and women in uniform, and 434 commissioned vessels including cruisers, destroyers, frigates, corvettes and auxiliaries.

During the 2,159 days that Canadian soldiers fought across Europe, Asia and Africa, 45,000 were killed, and 55,000 were injured. Those total casualties were equal to nearly 1 out of every 10 soldiers that served.

Canadians are not a blunt, brash or boasting lot. We are famous for apologizing for things that aren‚Äôt our fault. So let me say ‚ÄĚsorry‚ÄĚ to you in that vein – during the War, our armed forces were too busy making scraps to make a scrapbook for posterity. Many of our soldiers were gone for six years and then had to be re-integrated back into society after the War. We were also kind of busy burying our dead, and helping rebuild the world.

We’ll be sure to get it right for World War IIIwhich ironically will likely be started by someone like you, asking ill-advised, inflammatory questions like this.


(Editor’s Note:¬† The answer above certainly struck a nerve, which I’m thankful for!¬† ¬†In just the last 30 days alone, nearly 50,000 people on Quora.com read my answer above, and I received dozens of very kind comments.¬† I’ve shared my favorite at the end of this article.

I’m also honoured to have been “upvoted” over 2,900 times, which, according to Quora, means that these readers “believe I answered the question asked and contributed in a meaningful way to Quora’s repository of knowledge”.

If only the ORIGINAL QUESTION had been written with that same goal in mind.

And for the very first time in my life, I believe, something I’ve written has been painstakingly translated word for word into French, by a man I don’t know and have never spoken to before!¬† Merci beaucoup, Pierre Luc Gaudreault de Montr√©al!¬† You did an amazing job / Tu as fait un travail incroyable!

And it’s comments like these that truly make my blog, Quora, Youtube, Twitter…all worthwhile.¬† Thank you Raymond Li!


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By Shawn Jorgensen,  Founding Editor
Calling Out Community
Posted:  January 19, 2020
[God’s Got A Plan For You!]

Landing on the Beaches of Normandy (Paris 2009, Day 09c)

Today, in honor of the 75th Anniversary of the D-Day landings at Normandy, France, I am reposting my original travel blog of Paris,¬†and specifically, of the bus tour I took to visit the Normandy region, including all 3 major landing beaches for Omaha (America), Gold (UK) and Juno (Canada) beaches. The article’s wording has not been edited¬†since my original Blogger posting in 2009.

 For the events of Saturday, September 5, 2009


1:00 PM – As we departed the Caen Memorial, our tour guide told us the museum is made out of the local stones of Normandy and built on top of an old Nazi bunker! The Germans actually flooded all the roads we are driving on today just before D-Day, to try to slow any potential successful Allies landing, which obviously didn’t work.

AMERICAN SECTOR (OMAHA BEACH)

1:04 PM – We are now on a 45-minute drive to the Coast. As we moved along, I noticed that the houses were all out of a movie set – everything is primarily the same as it was before or during the D-Day landing. I liked this particular house because it had all the historic charm of the French coast, seen for hundreds of years – but with a satellite dish stuck right in front . Also went by a church that had served the community for centuries . Apologies for the blurry pictures at times – I was taking them out of a bus window traveling at a good clip down the little roads.

Our first stop on this historic trip for me is the American Sector codenamed Omaha Sector – it’s not actually known only as Omaha Beach as many know it today, because some parts of it don’t have beaches at all. So far this has been a very high-end trip – the guide talks a lot (15-20 min) of background which is good. She kept saying we’d be a bit rushed in places this AM but I didn’t feel that way. Really impressed so far.

If it weren’t for the heroic efforts of the tens of thousands that died on D-Day, the beaches of Normandy would not have been cleared for more than 2.5 million other Allied soldiers that flooded France by the end of September, halting the German invasion and slowly liberating country after country from the Nazi death grip.

D-Day was without a doubt the greatest military invasion in human history, and the largest amphibious landing of troops of all time. Operation Overlord (as the invasion was codenamed) began just midnight on June 6, 1944 first with an aerial assault of tens of thousands of American, British and Canadian troops behind the enemy lines. What followed at 6 AM was later described by the Germans as a total horizon of ships – more than 5,000 in fact, carrying over 175,000 soldiers to 50 miles of beaches. Operation Overlord continued until the advance to the outskirts of Paris on August 19, and the Battle of Paris began.

The German defenses used an interlocking firing style, so they could protect areas that were receiving heavy fire. They had large bunkers, sometimes intricate concrete ones containing machine guns and high caliber weapons. Their defense also integrated the cliffs and hills overlooking the beautiful view. The defenses were all built and honed over a four year period and were extremely complex. It was like a city made out of concrete, and included guns so huge they ran on rail cars. Those who landed on those beaches faced what was later described as the greatest concentration of firepower in world history.

My Uncle Clayton was one of those young boys that jumped off a boat and faced that horror on Juno Beach. Having seen how open some of these beaches were to enemy fire, I’m actually amazed anyone survived. The Allies were to bomb the smithereens out of the German guns before the landed, but in some cases,the bombs never hit a single target, especially at Juno Beach, and it caused an unknowing Allied landing party to come under tremendous attack.

PM – Our first stop of the tour, situated between Utah Beach to the west and Omaha Beach to the east was a little jutted-out place called Pointe Du Hoc (see map – the tip of which is the Pointe), where many American soldiers first landed. This is an original map from the invasion, and the Americans erroneously called it Point du Hoe on this map until later corrected.

Pointe Du Hoc is not a beach, but sheer cliffs rising from the water, making it very difficult to storm. The German guns, housed in 6 concrete bunkers, some with living quarters built into them, were able to reach as far as Utah Beach to the left (west) and Omaha Beach to the right (east), so it was imperative that the Americans successfully neutralize this area.

Though they literally bombed the heck out of the area first, they realized that they would still need to land troops there to ensure all guns were neutralized, and the 2nd Ranger Battalion was ordered to take the Pointe. However, before they could get there, the Germans, alerted by the continuous bombings, moved all the big guns about 1 mile away for safety. Before the Rangers attacked, their leadership knew the guns were moved, but the soldiers didn’t.

Regardless of the big guns being gone, the concrete fortifications were intact, and would still present a major threat to the landings if they were occupied by artillery forward observers. On these cliffs, 75 American troops were shot trying to climb the 100-foot cliffs with ropes, ladders, and grapples, and the troops had no ammunition reinforced to them for two full days after finally taking the Pointe – an eternity when you are being shot at constantly. Because of the price America paid to take this Pointe and ensure the success of D-Day itself, and the future liberation of France, the French gave this particular piece of land to America, and it is now permanent American soil.

1:55 PM – The first thing I noticed when I got to the Pointe, beyond the German bunkers, was how many bomb craters there were – it was like looking being on the surface of the moon. The second thing you notice is that literally nothing had been

touched since the landing – except for the guns, etc. removed. The broken concrete of the bombed-out German bunkers was left completely untouched.

The bunkers themselves were amazing (see photo for the German’s viewpoint), and completely available for you to crawl and wander through, which in hindsight seemed so crazy from a liability perspective, but then, who would you sue? They had open-ended concrete tunnels to connect them and were extremely dangerous to crawl through in places, with concrete half-bombed out and left dangling, etc., crawlspaces made half as big because they had collapsed, etc.

It was neat to see the track where the huge battery gun had been placed and ordered removed by General Rommel before the Americans attacked. It was huge – looked like it could turn 360 degrees on something like a gear set, and about 40-50 feet across, with about 6 stairs leading down on 4 sides.

I guess it was felt that the horror of war should not be put behind glass or barricades, but touched and felt. The blood of German and American soldiers had soaked the concrete in places, and it was left as it had been shed. It was both fantastic to see and horrifying to be near at the same time.

2:27 PM – Had to run to catch the bus back and did exactly on time – I was the last one. Oops! Felt rushed there but I understand there’s lots to see! I literally could have spent hours walking through those bunkers. It was beyond amazing. Definitely would like to come back and wander around more someday.

At this point, the roads are only one lane and very windy – they haven’t been changed since they were first constructed for humans and horses, with big trees on both sides – as it was in 1944. Beautiful old stone houses. And I just saw… a furry pig!

2:45 PM – We stopped for a 5 minute look at Omaha Beach itself, which wasn’t much to see – just a huge flat beach that seemed to go for miles, and some hills overlooking it that now had houses built up. Would be amazing real estate now and a very popular beach in summer time, but horrific on that June day. In that picture, there’s a little memorial at the bottom right hand corner. That is the marker of the first American cemetery in France, right on the beach – a mass grave where they just had to dump bodies for days to get them out of the way. They were later moved to the American Cemetery at Omaha Sector, our next stop.

3,700 Americans and 1,200 Germans died at Omaha Beach from 6:30 AM to noon. That’s 1 soldier every 4 seconds – and it went on for 5.5 hours.

3:00 PM – After a short drive we arrived at the American Cemetery at Omaha Sector, officially named the Colleville/Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer Cemetery. The cemetery was inaugurated in 1956 after four years work, overlooking the beaches of Omaha. Emotion overwhelms the visitor facing the large central viewpoint, the Memorial decorated with a huge Battle map, the Garden of the missing, where are carved the names of 1 557 missing soldiers. At the entrance to the Cemetery, a capsule is dedicated to General Eisenhower which contains his hand-written report of the D-Day fighting, sealed there on June 6, 1969 (the 25th anniversary of the landing).

But it’s the number of crosses that cover over 10 acres of land (and official American territory) that literally brings tears to your eyes and a lump to your throat. 9,386 American men (and 4 women) are laid to rest in this unbelievably beautiful and peaceful place.

I have seem video of this cemetery before (it was shown at the beginning and end of Saving Private Ryan), and thought I was prepared. Had a picture in my mind of my visit to Arlington National Cemetery as well but so wrong. This was like nothing I’ve ever seen in my life.

There are 50 people time staff that do nothing but cut the grass here. Of course they use electric equipment for the most part, but around each grave, the grass is always trimmed by nothing but hand clippers only. The graves are located at random, but are in sections of the alphabet from A-Z, and numbered rows in each section. There are four big sections in four quadrants, which have a central Chapel in the middle of them. While the majority of the Cemetery is filled with crosses, there are 300 Stars of David for Jewish soldiers as well.

As much as this was a nice place, we spent far too much time here. Why we had to be so rushed at the Beach and then spend an hour almost here is beyond me – I thought it was pretty stupid. I strongly recommend not doing a tour of the Normandy region in a bus – take a car from Paris and go on your own.

4:00 PM – We departed from the Cemetery and made our way out of the American Sector to the neighboring British Sector. Here, the roads so narrow and houses right up to the road, so it was difficult to take many pictures from the bus. At some points, you literally could have reached out the window from your seat and touched the walls of the buildings – a large charter bus such as ours could only go at a crawl, and no other vehicles could be coming from the other direction. In a few places some of the buildings were a bit farther off the road, allowing for a good shot, like this beautiful historic church.

The tour guide told us that the best dairy products in France, including Colbert and Camembert cheeses, come from here. There are also a lot of farms here with sheep and cows on them.

BRITISH SECTOR (GOLD BEACH)
4:15 PM – stopped at the British sector (Gold Beach) at Arromanches-les-Bains (or Arromanches as it’s known mostly), at low tide. I fell in love with this adorable little town at first sight – it reminds me of the Rock of Gibraltar on south tip of Spain, where I spent my 16th birthday in 1983. I just told myself I’ll be back here for summer vacation someday. I imagine it would be insanely busy- would like to rent a house or apartment and stay in the area for a week or two. Cute as a postcard with little souvenir shops, restaurants and B&Bs.

The town lies along the stretch of coastline designated as Gold Beach during the D-Day landings, one of the beaches used by British troops in the Allied invasion. Arromanches was selected as one of the sites for two Mulberry Harbours built on the Normandy coast, the other one built further West at Omaha Beach. Sections of the Mulberry Harbour at Arromanches still remain today with huge concrete blocks sitting on the sand, and more can be seen further out at sea.

At a meeting following the disastrous Dieppe Raid, Winston Churchill told his generals he remembered that in World War I, they had sunk old ships for a bridgehead for an invasion in the Danish Islands during World War I. The concept of Mulberry Harbours began to take shape quickly, to build an artificial harbour at Arromanches to make it easier to ship supplies in, etc without rough seas at the landing spots.

By June 9, just 3 days after D-Day, two harbours codenamed Mulberry “A” and “B” were constructed at Omaha Beach and Arromanches, respectively. However, a large storm destroyed the American harbour just 10 days later, leaving “Port Winston” at Arromanches with heavy duty for 8 months‚ÄĒ despite being designed to last only 3 months. It was used to land over 2.5 million men, 500,000 vehicles, and 4 million tonnes of supplies providing much-needed reinforcements in France.

 

Today Arromanches is mainly a tourist town. Situated in a good location for visiting all of the battle sites and War Cemeteries, there is also a museum at Arromanches with information about Operation Overlord and in particular, the Mulberry harbours.

My second biggest regret on this tour was how much time we wasted at the Cemetery, and how little we spent here. I could spend a week here, however, so another trip is a must!

Got a great coffee-flavored Italian gelato for about 1‚ā¨ from a street vendor across from the bus.

CANADIAN SECTOR (JUNO BEACH)

5:05 PM – We got back on the bus and again, after only a few minutes were at what I waited for all day – a moment (it seemed, almost literally a moment only) at Juno Beach, where my Uncle Clayton landed and lost so many friends. Canada had the second largest losses at Normandy behind the US – and we were such a little country then. I think that’s when the whole world sat up and took notice of us – and watched as we liberated country after country. People celebrating by the thousands in the streets and throwing flowers on Canadian tanks in Holland, Belgium, and France.

The biggest regret on this tour was that we were only to spend 15 minutes there. Screw that, I thought – there are 8 Canadians out of 23 on this bus, and we’ll hold it up as long as we want. The Americans got hours, we’ll get a few more minutes – and I talked to the other Canadians and we agreed to just drag it out a few minutes longer. The Americans understood later and didn’t complain at all. They all agreed the Museum there is the nicest of them all today.

Juno at the town of Courseulles-sur-Mer was the second most heavily defended (the British Gold beach was the least defended) of the five landing sites chosen. The Germans had 11 heavy batteries of 155 mm guns and 9 medium batteries of 75 mm guns at their disposal, plus pillboxes and other fortifications were present all along the beach, most heavily concentrated in the Courseulles-sur-Mer region. The seawall was twice the height of Omaha Beach’s, and the sea was heavily mined. German troop strength numbered under 8,000 soldiers and was one of the weakest divisions in Normandy. Thankfully, or the Canadian casualties, the second worst of the D-Day invasion, would have been much larger.

In the first day of the invasion alone, Canadian casualties numbered nearly 1,000 killed and wounded, but it was such an unbelievably chaotic day that no accurate record is possible to indicate how many were killed on the beach and how many became casualties inland. Once the Canadians cleared the seawall (about an hour after leaving the transports) they were able to advance towards their objectives farther inland.

Having seen how completely open this beach was, I’ve never been so proud of my country in my life. There were several completely intact bunkers at this beach, that had full living quarters built into them underground. Quite amazing. I didn’t get pictures, but have a bit of video and will show upon request.

The Centre Juno Beach, paid for with individual Canadian donations, was beautiful. Sorry folks, it was so dismal outside, and I had so little time, that I didn’t get great frontal shots of the building. It was a very impressive looking centre, designed to look from the air like a stylized maple-leaf, made with polished copper to shine in the sun. And it had these little posts that had little nameplates of donors from coast-to-coast in Canada, who had given more than $6 million total. Only Canadians would rally together for something like that. I encourage everyone to visit http://www.junobeach.org to learn more about the Centre, and the price Canada paid to free Europe.

5:30 PM – could have spent much more time here, but maybe this would be a great second trip. Beautiful place. But finally we had to get ready to leave. As we left the region, I saw that Juno is right by a pretty little harbor that looked a bit like False Creek. Would be a great place to live, so close to the ocean. They also had an oyster farm there, which was interesting.

 

7:00 PM – we stopped at a truck stop on the way called Total. It was the most unique thing I’ve seen all day, as it seemed to look best on a Canadian freeway – really different than anywhere else I’ve been to in France. They had a bank of coffee machines against one wall that made expressos, chocolate cappucinos, anything you wanted practically. Really neat. Got a ham and Emmental cheese (which I’ve never had before in my life) sandwich, a Lion chocolate bar (which was really amazing – had Rice Krispies, caramel and covered with chocolate), and a Fanta Tropical juice for the road back. But was so tired I fell asleep right away and didn’t eat any of it!

8:00 PM – Woke up in time to see a high-speed “bullet” train that takes you from Paris to Normandy. I swear it was the fastest thing I’ve ever seen with my own eyes run on land. Amazing – must have been going a few hundred kms/hour.

9:00 PM – we made great timing back, and were back around 9:00 (supposed to be 9:30) back at the station. Before I hopped on the train, however, I ran over to the Louvre (just a block away from the Cityrama office0 to get a great night shot. It’s so beautiful at night, and it was a great night in Paris, so I couldn’t resist. A bit creepy at night there, mind you.

9:45 PM – I quickly took the train back, and got back to the hotel. Found a really nice fruit basket at the hotel that they had left as a thank you gift – nice touch. Going to head to bed around 9:45 PM so I can get up and pack and finish some of my blog in the morning. Good night – loooooooong day, but really amazing.

Was exhausted so ate the supper I bought at the truck stop, some of the fruit, and went to sleep.

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By Shawn Jorgensen,  Founding Editor
Calling Out Community
Original Post:  September 5, 2009.  Reposted:  June 6, 2019
[God’s Got A Plan For You!]

The Magnificent Notre Dame Cathedral and Louvre (Paris 2009, Day 08b)

Tonight, in honor of the great Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, heavily damaged in a tragic accidental fire, I am reposting my original travel blog of Paris,¬† specifically of the day I visited this landmark Cathedral. The article’s wording has not been edited, since its original Blogger posting in 2009.

 For the events of Friday, September 4, 2009


10:15 AM – After going down to breakfast, I came back to the room to see that the rain clouds had seemingly weakened, and the sun was starting to come out. I quickly finalized my final plans for a big a day of travelling. Today I plan to see all of the biggest icons of Paris in one day – it’s a bit of a stretch whether I can actually make it happen or not, but will definitely try!

I took the RER C train to the Saint Michel-Notre Dame station. As I exited, I could see a big crowd was starting to already gather about a block away. I had to cross a small bridge over the Seine river, which was frankly unmemorable, and as I crossed the far end of the bridge, I was actually on √éle de la Cit√© or “Island of the City”.

This little area is actually the first site of the 2,000-year-old city of Paris, and right in front of me, in all of its 840-year-old glory, was Notre Dame (“Our Lady”) Cathedral – the seat of the Archbishop of Paris (see picture left, click for larger). This beautiful cathedral, which took over 200 years to build, was just opened a few minutes before, and already seems to have busloads of tourists in its big open courtyard in the front of the building.

The building itself is amazing – you are immediately drawn to all of the incredible statues of saints and sinners that adorn it’s walls and buttresses (see picture right, click for larger). A man close to me said “it looks like the rain is gone” and his wife said “hallelujah”, and for some reason, I thought I could trust them to take my picture with my camera, so came up and introduced myself. They were really friendly, and we got a few good shots for each other in front of the massive Cathedral.

A minute or two later, a lady came up and asked if I spoke English, and when I said yes, she held up a weird sign talking about how she was from Bosnia and had all these kids to take care of blah blah. She looked like a stereotypical image of a gypsy and I was immediately on guard. I knew something was up here – why not just talk to me if you spoke English too? And if not, how did you write the sign in English? She kept getting closer, and I laughed and said “sorry honey, my pockets are zippered closed” and walked away – she looked a little stunned at being found out, but quickly scurried on to the next sucker. And to think she was trying to pickpocket me in front of a Church!

I followed a big group of what sounded like Italian-speaking people into the church, and heard the massive bass of the pipe organ playing as my eyes adjusted to the darkness for about a minute or two before it stopped – it was really amazing to hear it! And for the next hour, that was the only time it was played, so it was a real treat. I caught some of it on video to capture the sound.

I spent about the next hour walking around and looking at statues of Archbishops and others who were buried within the walls, and spent a bit of time at the front altar of the church. I have to admit, not being Catholic, that the Cathedral, beyond its architecture, wasn’t of much interest to me anymore, and it was unbelievably crowded. Big tour groups of Italians (not sure why there were so many) were literally filling all of the corridors to the point you couldn’t walk around them. I was starting to feel claustrophobic, so decided to get back outside.

Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris – September 2009 (Credit; Shawn Jorgensen)

11:30 AM – I crossed back over the bridge and away from the crowds, to get a few pictures of the backside of the Cathedral (see picture left, click for larger), and got some nice shots. The rain clouds seemed to be getting darker and closer as time went on, and I was getting concerned that my whole day was going to be wrecked. It was by no means hot outside, but whatever, I wasn’t going to quit unless it literally was pouring.

I made a call to the tour group I was going on tomorrow, and I’m glad I did – found out that the Metro stop they had stated in the brochure was best to go to (Palais Royal/Louvre) was in fact a 10 minute walk. I needed to go to Tuileries station, and it was only a 2-minute walk. I was to look for a courtyard with a gold statue, and the Cityrama office was apparently right there. I found out I was confirmed for tomorrow morning and was to be there at 6:45 AM. I’m getting excited now – hope the weather improves!

11:45 AM – Found a great little souvenir shop and spent about 20 minutes finding some Eiffel Towers, keychains, etc. for folks, friends and work colleagues back home. In hindsight, it wasn’t the smartest thing I did all day, but stuff was cheap. Now I have to haul it all around with me! I have a schedule to keep and I don’t want to go all the way back to the hotel to drop stuff off, but was tempted to after I carried everything out.

I was walking up the street, parallel to the Seine River, and saw a few little booksellers (see picture right, click for larger) that I’d read about that were open and selling things. Apparently, they have been doing this exact same thing for over 400 years in this area. The booths almost look like big green garbage bins – they flip open a lid that’s locked down to the street and up pops a bunch of tables with books, etc. on them.

In case you are tempted to bypass this area of the city as being cheap tourist junk, think again. These are real genuine antique bookstore owners who sell some amazing nostalgic stuff – I bought a bunch of litho copies of a painting of the Eiffel Tower for people back home, and continued to head down the street back to the Metro.

1:15 PM – To get the to the Louvre, I had to first transfer to the Ch√Ętelat Metro station. I got on the RER B train and was there in just a few minutes. I was stunned at how enormous this place was – it is clearly the Grand Central Station of Paris. It’s named after Grand Ch√Ętelet – a castle destroyed by Napoleon in 1802 after the Revolution. It was so big it had about 6 or 7 stores in the main atrium area, which was like the spoke of a wheel, with all the corridors leading down to the various trains branching from it. This particular station is the connector for 7 Metro stations and 4 RER stations, and was already incredibly busy.

I had to walk all the way down from one end of the station to another, which according to Wikipedia – is more than 1 kilometre long! In fact, I had to go down two different moving sidewalks (see picture right, click for larger) to get to the last platform for Line 7 – which was to take me to the Louvre Metro station. It took nearly 15 minutes to walk all the way through the station, getting lost a few times and finally getting on Line 7 train, which is again one of the little LRT style trains that are so old and over-used.

2:00 PM – after about a 20 minute ride, I was at the Louvre station, and exited to a beautiful art deco exterior which I had to stop and take a picture of (see picture left, click for larger). I was clearly in the artsy section of the city. It was located in a little park, that had a comedy theatre beside it.

When you exit the station, you come up into a little square, with the Hotel du Louvre behind you, something like looked like an embassy to the left, an antique mall across a little courtyard, and to the right, the magnificent, several-block-long Musee du Louvre.

2:50 PM – I spent a bit of time wandering around the neighbourhood, which seemed to be full of people but empty of sights, so I walked back to the courtyard, walked up to the Louvre. There was a walkway that went through the outer ring of the Louvre to the inner courtyard and main entrance. As I did, I walked by huge floor to ceiling windows that were showcasing some beautiful sculptures and statues inside. I wasn’t planning to go inside the Louvre at all, because I had a lot I wanted to do today, and I wasn’t really into art to that degree. But this was a neat little treat (see picture right, click for larger).

Mus√©e du Louvre or officially the Grand Louvre ‚ÄĒ in English, the Louvre Museum or Great Louvre – or simply “the Louvre” ‚ÄĒ is the largest national museum of France, the most visited museum in the world, and a historic monument. It is a central landmark of Paris, located on the Right Bank of the Seine in the 1st arrondissement (neighbourhood). Nearly 35,000 objects from prehistory to the 19th century are exhibited over an area of 652,300 square feet.

The museum is housed in the Louvre Palace (Palais du Louvre) which was a fortress built in the late 12th century under Philip II – and parts of the fortress are still visible. In 1672, Louis XIV chose the Palace of Versailles for his household, leaving the Louvre primarily as a place to display the royal collection, including, from 1692, a collection of antique sculpture. During the French Revolution, the National Assembly decreed that the Louvre should be used as a museum, to display the nation’s masterpieces.

The museum opened on 10 August 1793 with an exhibition of 537 paintings, the majority of the works being confiscated church and royal property. The size of the collection increased under Napoleon when the museum was renamed the Mus√©e Napol√©on. After his defeat at Waterloo, many works seized by Napoleon’s armies were returned to their original owners. As of 2008, the collection is divided among eight curatorial departments: Egyptian Antiquities; Near Eastern Antiquities; Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities; Islamic Art; Sculpture; Decorative Arts; Paintings; and Prints and Drawings.

3:00 PM – I exited into the inner courtyard of the Louvre, which features the Pyramid. Suddenly the sky’s opened up and it just started pouring rain. The courtyard had been just full of people and they scurried to all sides of the courtyard to escape the rain, including myself. I hadn’t brought an umbrella because I didn’t really think it was going to rain in the afternoon – this sucked. I thought it would last forever, but a major wind came up out of nowhere all of a sudden, and within minutes the sky’s temporarily cleared – long enough for me to a get a few dismal shots in front of the Museum. Sigh.

3:30 PM – soon it started to rain again, and I lost patience. I was tired, had been hauling the souvenir bag around for hours and was ready now to get back to the hotel. I had actually had seen most of the sights today on my list. I crossed the street back to the courtyard, and walked down a block-long area with souvenirs, restaurants, etc. It was crowded, noisy and irritating.

I came up to a restaurant called Rivoli Cafe and bought a quiche that looked like a pizza (see picture left, click for larger). It was really quite awful – very greasy, but it was only about 2,50‚ā¨ so I couldn’t resist. I was pretty irritated to see a McDonald’s a block away, however – I should have eaten there instead. I was already feeling a bit upset before I even left the area.

Then I had an extremely irritating follow-up trying to find a bank or currency exchange that would break my 50‚ā¨ bills, because they were sticking up outside my wallet, advertising to everyone who wanted to see, and made me nervous. First I went to two different currency exchange places, and asked where a bank was at both. Both said they didn’t know where one was. Turned the corner, there was a bank. Good lord.

I waited in line at the bank for over 20 minutes and they wouldn’t break my bill, and the currency exchange places wouldn’t either. One actually told me to go to a supermarket and buy something. I told him to drop dread and stormed out.

4:04 PM – This was the Paris that sadly many warned me about – ignorant, unhelpful, rude barbarians. But I do not believe these are true Parisians, just as I don’t believe this tourist nightmare is a real cross-section of the wonderful city. I admit I was starting to get really sick of the city at this point, and wanted to go home, but knew I was just overreacting and tired, so headed back to the hotel to relax before heading out tonight.

As I left the area of the Louvre, it was really starting to rain again by now, so I was getting discouraged that I wouldn’t get to go out tonight, but I was going to go on the boat cruise whether it was nice out or not.

More adventure to follow!

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By Shawn Jorgensen,  Founding Editor
Calling Out Community
Original Post:  September 5, 2009.  Reposted April 15, 2019
[God’s Got A Plan For You!]

Vimy Ridge at 100: Canada Rises Up

A cadet stands in front of the National War Memorial in Ottawa during a ceremony to recognize 100 years since the Battle of Vimy Ridge. (Credit: Andrew Foote/CBC)

The steps of the National War Memorial in Ottawa were bathed in the glow of 3,598 candles on Saturday night, April 9, 2017 Рeach one lit to represent a Canadian soldier killed in the First World War Battle of Vimy Ridge.  Canadian Army Cadets then stood guard overnight at our capital city War Memorial to mark the 100th anniversary of Vimy Ridge, fought from April 9-12, 1917.

It seems fitting to include these young cadets in guard duty this week.  They would have been just like all the other boys too young to enlist in active duty as the Great War began.  Left behind while their older brothers, uncles, and fathers went to the fight on foreign fields, these cadets, in a very real sense, are a picture of Canada herself in 1917.  

Though She was 49 years old at the time of this Battle, Canada’s¬†first half century was marked by very little calamity. ¬†That was all about to change on foreign battlefields with names like¬†Ypres, Vimy Ridge, Passchendaele, and others. The horrors seen and sacrifices made in this Battle;¬†the military tactical genius that Canada employed;¬†and the bravery of the young men themselves, would lift¬†Canada internationally from behind¬†Her mother’s (Great Britain) apron to a new¬†level of global respect and recognition,¬†a nation that stands on her own, which Canada has built upon ever since.


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The large regimental Celtic cross of the 15th Battalion (48th Highlanders) where it stood 100 years ago on the battlefield near Vimy Ridge. Although there were other wooden crosses fashioned by regimental carpenters, this is one of the very few to survive. (Credit: CBC)

As late as¬†February 2017, you wouldn’t have to go further than a church basement in Toronto to view¬†a historical artifact from the Battle of Vimy¬†Ridge¬†– a¬†100-year old wooden battlefield cross.

Regimental carpenters had pre-built and would quickly paint the names and erect these crosses right on the battlefield, a thankless job that became an art form in itself, as many hundreds of these crosses were erected on far too many bomb-scarred fields across western Europe.

The fact that this cross¬†had survived for a century was a testament to how well it had been taken care of. ¬†CBC reported¬†that it had been transported across the Atlantic to¬†France twice, but had always found its way back to its “temporary” 100-year home in Canada.

CBC continued:

The cross was expertly packed for the voyage along with one poppy for every one of the 57 names etched on it. It will go on display this weekend at the newly opened Vimy Ridge visitor centre. (Credit: Nahlah Ayed/CBC)

Etched¬†on its surface are the names of 57 Canadian soldiers, most from the 15th Battalion, and most of whom were killed in the first hours of that assault. ¬†That makes it one of only a handful of surviving witnesses ‚ÄĒ and a real-time partial record ‚ÄĒ of the heavy Canadian losses in those pivotal opening moments of the battle.

The 15th Battalion was tasked with taking on the Eastern edge of the ridge, which meant advancing over a longer distance, and through more German lines than other Canadian units.

In fact, they expected such heavy casualties with this Battalion that they had actually pre-dug their graves before the battle even began.  They ended up with two sites where multiple Canadian troops from this Battalion were buried together, and each was given a cross.  This was one of those two handmade memorials.

In February 2017, for the first time in a century, and thanks to the Canadian Ministry of Veterans Affairs, this Celtic cross was flown across the Atlantic, where ministry officials were there to greet it and to transport it Рif only temporarily, to the same spot where these people listed are actually buried.

W.H. Collyer died at Vimy Ridge at 17. The legal age to join the Canadian army was 18, so he would have lied about his age in order to enter the fight. (Credit: CBC)

On the 100th Anniversary memorial weekend, and for the first time in 100 years, the cross was raised over the actual graves of those men for a limited time.

As dramatic as the story of this grave marker is, it will, of course, be overshadowed by the incredible size and beauty of the Canadian Vimy Ridge Memorial itself.   It is by far the most dramatic Canadian memorial to any cause on Earth.  At the time that it was being constructed, however, Vimy Ridge was not considered to be as important perhaps as we see it today.

The Vimy Memorial itself changed all that, designed by Canadian architect Walter Seymour Allward, and taking an astonishing 11 years to build.

Canada Bereft” or “Mother Canada” is the largest statue at the front of the memorial and is said to depict “Canada mourning her fallen sons.” Its inscription reads:

“To the valour of their countrymen in the Great War and in memory of their sixty thousand dead this monument is raised by the people of Canada.”

It is often a quiet place, even when there are many visitors, as it really is a place of reflection.

The Vimy Ridge Memorial at night, as seen April 6, 2017, just days before the 100th Anniversary. (Credit: Vimy Ridge Memorial)

And Canada has much to reflect on.  In fact, I had a lump in my throat as I was writing a sentence. What those Canadian men and boys did, beginning in blinding rain and sleet, on that early Easter Monday morning 100 years ago, is still today looked at as being a marvel of modern warfare.

Situated in northern France, the heavily-fortified seven-kilometre ridge held a commanding view over the Allied lines. Anyone in the future who¬†would be assaulting the Ridle¬†over an open graveyard, since previous French attacks had failed –with over 100,000 casualties.

Canada was given this task next – and to be blunt, there was some mentality¬†of Canadians being “cannon fodder” in this equation. ¬†History shows that Canadian troops, when fighting as part of a larger British Empire¬†force, were often thrown into the front lines of horrific battles, in order to risk¬†less British lives.

Canadian troops go “over the wall” and into a great victory in Vimy Ridge on April 9, 1917. Troops took the Ridge in one day, suffering the greatest one-day loss of life in Canadian history. (Credit: Metro News)

All four divisions of the little Canadian Expeditionary Force ¬†– ¬†mostly volunteers – were brought¬†together for the first time¬†in Canada’s 49-year history to fight this Battle. ¬†Including one British division, they¬†numbered¬†170,000 troops¬†over 145,000 Canadians, virtually¬†our entire Army at that time.

If we had lost – if Canada¬†had failed on that Ridge – it would’ve been an unthinkable disaster for our nation, as we risked¬†destroying our entire national Army. ¬†I get angry just thinking about the risk our nation was asked to take.

To capture this difficult position, the Canadians would carefully plan and rehearse their attack.  To give them greater flexibility and firepower in battle,  specialist roles as machine-gunners, rifle-men and grenade-throwers underwent weeks of training behind the lines using models to represent the battlefield, and new maps were drawn up from aerial photographs to guide their way.

British-dug tunnels around the Vimo Ridge area. One still exists for tourists to explore to present day. (Credit: Wikipedia)

bring men forward safely for the assault, engineers dug deep tunnels from the rear to the front. Despite this training and preparation, the key to victory was a devastating artillery barrage that would crelate a moving wall of high explosives and shrapnel that forced the Germans to stay in their treaches and away from their machine-guns.

In the week leading up to the battle, Canadian and British artillery pounded the enemy positions on the ridge, using new artillery tactics that allowed the gunners to first target, then destroy enemy positions.  Canadians were given an almost limitless supply of artillery shells, which destroyed hardened defences and barbed wire.  The Canadian infantry would be well supported when it went into battle Рwith over 1,000 artillery pieces laying down withering, supportive fire.

6-inch gun of the Royal Garrison Artillery firing over Vimy Ridge behind Canadian lines at night (Credit: Wikipedia)

Attacking together for the first time, the four Canadian divisions stormed the ridge at 5:30am on April 9, 1917. More than 15,000 Canadian infantry overran the Germans all along the front.  Incredible bravery and discipline allowed the infantry to continue moving forward under heavy fire, even when their officers were killed.

There were countless acts of sacrifice, as Canadians single-handedly charged machine-gun nests or forced the surrender of Germans in protective dugouts.  Hill 145, the highest and most important feature of the Ridge, and where the Vimy monument now stands, was captured in a case of bayonets versus German machine-gun positions.

It took there more days of costly battle to deliver the final victory. The Canadian operation was an important success, even if the larger British and French offensive, of which it had been a part, had failed. But it was victory at a heavy cost:  on top of the near 3,600 Canadians killed, more tHan 7,000 were wounded.

Prince Charles, the British Prince of Wales, said so dramatically and beautifully at the 100th Anniversary ceremony on April 9, 2017:

Prince Charles and sons Prince William and Prince Harry, visit one of the only still-accessible tunnels used by Canadian troops at Vimy Ridge. (Credit: Daily Mail)

‚Äú(The Canadians) succeeded in seizing the vital high ground of Vimy ‚Äď a task in which many others before them had failed,‚ÄĚ Prince Charles said.

‚ÄúHowever, victory came at an unbearably heavy cost. This was, and remains, the single bloodiest day in Canadian military history. Yet Canadians displayed a strength of character and commitment to one another that is still evident today. They did not waver. This was Canada at its best. ‚Ķ ‚ÄĚ [Emphasis mine]

More than just a memorial to one specific Battle and the nearly 3,600 soldiers who died there, Vimy Ridge became a national place of mourning for all soldiers of the Great War.  In fact, there are 11,285 names carved into the monument, all Canadians who died during the Great War but who have no known resting place. The names are those still found across Canada today.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and French President François Hollande honor the fallen at the cemetery at the Vimy Ridge Memorial on April 9, 2017. (Credit: Metro News)

The April 9, 2017 ceremony for the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge was attended by more than 25,000 Canadians, with millions more Canadians estimated to be listening on the radio and over television.

To them, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau summarized the day:

“As I see the faces gathered here ‚Äď veterans, soldiers, caregivers, so many young people ‚Äď I can‚Äôt help but feel a torch is being passed,‚ÄĚ Trudeau said in his speech. ‚ÄúOne hundred years later, we must say this, together. And we must believe it: Never again.‚ÄĚ

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By Shawn J., Founding Editor
Calling Out Community
Posted April 9, 2017

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Germany, France and ¬†Russia Unite Against ISIS

In a surprise move Germany left the anti-Putin-alliance formed by the USA: Germany is now officially welcoming Moscow’s readiness to act in Syria and is starting an initiative together with the Russians and the French to bring an end to the war. This is to stop the constant stream of refugees. Germany has ordered thousands of soldiers into readiness.


(This article originally appeared at DAWN, translated by Frank Jakob exclusively for SouthFront.)

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin in deep discussion. (Credit: Business Insider)

Germany surprisingly left the alliance formed together with the United States which intended to block Russia’s entry into the Syrian conflict.

Minister of Defence Ursula von der Leyen told Der Spiegel that she welcomed president Putin‚Äôs intentions of joining the fight against the extremist organization ‚ÄúIslamic State‚ÄĚ. It would be a matter of mutual interests, she said.

A speaker of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs added, Germany would welcome additional efforts of Russia in the fight against ISIS. Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier even announced the starting of a joint venture between him, Russian foreign minister Lavrov and their French colleague Laurent Fabius with the aim of bringing the Syrian civil war to an end. Lavrov and Fabius are expected to arrive in Berlin this Saturday.

The new Anti-ISIS Triumvirate, born out of the horrors of terror: Presidents Hollande (France) & Putin (Russia), Chancellor Merkel (Germany)
The new Anti-ISIS Triumvirate, born out of the horrors of terror: Presidents Hollande (France) & Putin (Russia), Chancellor Merkel (Germany)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called upon the US-Ministry of Defence to coordinate their efforts with the Russian military. Because both sides are actively invested in Syria it would be paramount for the US to reinstate the previously ceased operational cooperation with Russia, said Lavrov on Friday in Moscow. This was intended to avoid ‚Äúunintentional incidents‚ÄĚ.

Russia’s military drills in the Mediterranean would be in accordance to international law. Larvrov explained furthermore, that Russia would keep delivering weapons to the troops of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad to support their struggle against the extremist organization of Islamic State (IS).

Russia already began a diplomatic offensive weeks ago. The Americans did not precisely indicate whether they would support the Russian initiative. Under no circumstances would the US give Russia credit for solving the deadlocked situation, should Russia in fact be successful. Therefore the US-government warned precautionary of a worsening in the refugee crisis should Russia intervene.

Everything in Syria changed when the US sent in Special Operations ground troops. (Credit: Ubertopic.com)
Everything in Syria changed when the US sent in Special Operations ground troops. (Credit: Ubertopic.com)

Neoconservatives are issuing warnings about any cooperation with Russia in whatever matter. US-President Obama did not clearly state whether the Russian initiative was done in coordination with the White House. Foreign Minister John Kerry went on a surprise visit to Russia in spring which, however, remained without results regarding the Syrian matter. It is likely that the US-government changed their mind in the face of the worsening of the refugee crisis so that they are now willing to cooperate with Russia in the Middle East.

German Frank-Walther Steinmeier has long been trying to conciliate behind the curtains and is therefore constantly in touch with his Russian colleague Lavrov. It looks like he is the only one in the German government who realizes that the refugee crisis will get completely out of control if the war in the Middle East continues. Austria and Spain signaled days ago that a Russian participation in the battle against IS was crucial. Russia began expanding its military activities in Syria.

German Eurofighters (Credit: The Telegraph)

German Minister of Defence Ursula von der Leyen wants to expand the deployment of the Bundeswehr, the (German unified Armed Forces) in Iraq. They Bundeswehr would be ready to continue its successful work in Kurdish regions in cooperation with the Iraqi government, she told Der Spiegel on Saturday.

First steps would already be undertaken. Germany delivered medical supplies, helmets and hazard-protections masks. Up to 100 Bundeswehr soldiers are training Kurdish Peshmerga fighters in northern Iraq. Weapons were also delivered.

Von-der Leyen also ordered thousands of German soldiers into readiness in the wake of the refugee crisis. If this was done because of the refugees or hints of terror threats is still unknown. The order was given to the troops a day before, said a speaker of the ministry on Friday in response to a report by Der Spiegel. Up to 4,000 soldiers are under constant readiness to be deployed.

FILE - In this March 20, 2011 file photo, France's nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle leaves its home port of Toulon, southern France. France has decided to deploy an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf to help fighting Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The French president Francois Hollande announced Thursday Nov.5, 2015 his decision at the inauguration of the country’s new ultra-secured defense ministry in Paris. (AP Photo/Claude Paris, File)
France’s nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle leaves its home port of Toulon, southern France for the Persian Gulf. (AP Photo/Claude Paris, File)

 

French forces also maintain a strong presence in Syria, since launching air strikes against the Assad and ISIS regimes late last year.¬† According to a Kurdish source, French troops stationed in northern Syria have also commenced constructing a military base near the city of Kobani in Aleppo province.¬† Currently, the government of France said military personnel deployed to Syria are working only in an advisory capacity to ‘democratic’ Kurdish-led group.

France has 2,500 men in its special forces, of whom around 400 are deployed in 17 countries, mainly in the Sahel, the military said.  French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian had indicated in early June, in remarks to a small state television channel covering French politics, that French troops were helping operations at Manbij.  The French nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle is also in the region.

It looks like it’s the United States’ move now.¬† Clearly there are many groups today who feel the Obama has led a weak, emaciated and often confusing campaign in Syria, supporting some rebel groups in the region, and then announcing they have withdrawn funding or support for same – which would inevitably end with these allies’ deaths.¬† Some believe that Obama’s actions several years ago may actually have assisted in the creation of ISIS in the first place.

[Translators comment:
It has been reported that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called into question the effectiveness of the US-led coalition against Islamic State (IS). According to PNP magazine, he stated that concerned colleagues from within the US-led coalition turned to him. They informed him that the US military did not give clearances to their fighter pilots even though they clearly located and identified Islamic State positions.]

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By Retro Russia, Founding Blog Member
Calling Out Community
Posted July 25, 2016

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President Hollande: DECLARE WAR Already!

103335143_restricted-nice-suspect-news_(1)-large_trans++eo_i_u9APj8RuoebjoAHt0k9u7HhRJvuo-ZLenGRumAOn the evening of July 14, 2016, Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, a Tunisian resident of France, deliberately drove a 19-tonne cargo truck into crowds celebrating Bastille Day on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, France, killing 84 people and injuring more than 300. He was shot and killed by police.

The incident has been described as the third major terrorist attack in France since January 2015, following the Île-de-France attacks on January 7-9, 2015 and the Paris attacks on November 13, 2015.


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The near-10,000 American soldiers who died on D-Day, American Cemetary, Normandy, France

I was privileged to have walked the ancient streets of Paris, and the blood-soaked beaches of Normandy on the first week of September, 2009 – as the world marked the 70th anniversary of the start of World War II.

That period was a time for heroes and villains in France, great betrayal and a massive final victory. I recognize it was a different time in a lot of ways, but the people of France – the very soul of the country – hasn’t changed in hundreds of years.

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Lady Liberty, 1876 

The French believed in liberty enough to send thousands of troops, their navy and spent over $1 billion livres on the American Revolutionary War – which was nearly twice as much as the government made in a year! It was this debt that caused them to start their own Revolution. In 1876, they even gifted the Statue of Liberty to America on her 100tht birthday!

They have been ruled by Kings, an Emperor… even dictator Adolf Hitler, after the Nazi conquest of France. France has been conquered by and repelled several invading armies over the centuries, and nearly conquered the world themselves under Napoleon. But they are not known as a warrior people today – in fact, just the opposite.

French President Francois Hollande hugs German Chancellor Angela Merkel as she arrives at the Elysee Palace before the giant Unity rally in Paris after the 2nd major attack (Credit: CNN)
French President Francois Hollande hugs German Chancellor Angela Merkel as she arrives at the Elysee Palace before the giant Unity rally in Paris after the 2nd major attack (Credit: CNN) 

ISIS is something no one was prepared for. ISIS is full of cowards, mowing down kids in semi trucks and shooting grandmas with machine guns. And by the time French police and troops could be mustered each time, the carnage was already set. Yet they have a wimped out socialist President Francois Hollande that somehow still thinks, even after three attacks by ISIS on France in less than a year, that it’s best not to declare war on them or risk riling them up.

That ship has sailed ages ago, and it seems the world is up to its eyeballs in liberal idiots when we need strong leadership the most. As a member of the North American Treaty Organization (NATO), any nation under attack by a foreign power can call upon the other member nations of NATO to come to their aid. Highlights of Article 5 of the Charter include:

– Collective defence means that an attack against one Ally is considered as an attack against all Allies.
– The principle of collective defence is enshrined in Article 5 of the Washington Treaty.
– NATO invoked Article 5 for the first time in its history after the 9/11 terrorist attacks against the United States.
-NATO has taken collective defence measures on several occasions, for instance in response to the situation in Syria and in the wake of the Russia-Ukraine crisis.
-NATO has standing forces on active duty that contribute to the Alliance’s collective defence efforts on a permanent basis.

Yet all that, and he still has not yet done so, and that’s unfortunate – our combined power could have destroyed ISIS by now and spared the horror of Nice.

French Reserve Army forces 

Then, the BBC reported early on Sunday morning, July 17 that France had called up 12,000 reservists to help them with security at home. Oh Lord, he just either doesn’t get it or doesn’t want to – if ISIS is already in the country, you can post a million troops around the borders of the country and that will just give ISIS a million fewer people to worry about as they carry out attacks inside the country.

As French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve called up the reservists, he stated that the operational reserve is currently made up of 12,000 volunteers, 9,000 of whom are within the paramilitary police and 3,000 in the regular police force. “We are going to reinforce the presence of security forces across the country,” he added. Cazeneuve added that the number of security forces deployed to protect the population was nearly 100,000, including 53,000 police, 36,000 para-military police and 10,000 soldiers.

But that’s never going to be enough. France needs to hit them WHERE THEY LIVE. They need to destroy the ISIS oilfields, which U.S. President Obama wouldn’t do, I guess thinking that hurting the ozone for a few weeks was more important than destroying a terrorist army that can do all THIS in just one city alone. These socialists will be the death of us all.

The body of a little girl lies covered in the street in Nice, just one of 84 victims of this senseless barbarianism
The body of a little girl lies covered in the street in Nice, just one of 84 victims of this senseless barbarianism. (Credit: Daily Mail) 

So I decided to do something different, and tweeted the people of France, in French and English, a plea for them to wake their govenrment up for their own sakes. It was well received but I’m just a little nobody. Maybe it’s already too late for France – they already have the largest Muslim population in the Western world. You’d think that would actually keep them safe but as a rule, Islam has no soul and Muslims have no loyalty to other Muslims. This is just the beginning of true horrors to come.

I close with my notes to the people of France. I can at least go to sleep knowing I tried all I could. But this will take the combined will of all of France – I just hope it’s not too late for her to realize she still has it inside.

An Open Letter To The People of France

14 juillet 2016

Citoyens bien-aim√©s de la France: il y a 227 ans aujour’dhui, vous lev√®rent contre la tyrannie et ¬ępouvoir du peuple¬Ľ a chang√© pour toujours la France. Aujourd’hui, les forces du mal sont √† l’Ňďuvre pour amener la R√©publique √† genoux. L√®ve-toi, √™tre courageux et d√©clarer la guerre √† ISIS. Les Canadiens se tiendront avec vous pour essuyer ce mal de la terre.

January 2016 Unity Rally in Paris, attended by more than 1.5 million people.
Unity Rally in Paris, attended by more than 1.5 million people.

July 14, 2016

Beloved citizens of France: 227 years ago today you rose up against tyranny and “people power” forever changed France. Today evil forces are at work to bring the Republic to its knees. Rise up, be brave and declare war on ISIS. Canadians will stand with you to wipe this evil from the earth.

Vive la France. Vive la République!

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By Shawn J., Founding Editor
Calling Out Community
Posted July 14, 2016

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Iran Illegally Test-Fired Missiles (Yawn)

By Calling Out Community, Posted October 12, 2015. Updated January 17, 2016

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Secretary of State John Kerry after a news conference on Iran nuclear talks in Vienna. (Credit: Carlos Barria/Agence France-Presse)

On July 14, 2015, the P5+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States), the European Union (EU), and the Islamic Republic of Iran reached a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).  This, incidentally, is likely the most irrelevant, unrelated title for a document in history.

The JCPOA was sold to the general public as a way of ensuring that Iran does not pose a near or even distant danger to the world through its already-existent nuclear program, which it says is solely for energy generation purposes.

imagesHowever, as news reports about the JCPOA came out, and details were more clearly realized, we were shocked to discover just how badly this had been negotiated. The deal left far too many things on the table, and took off safeguards that seemed totally ludicrous.

One of the most notable was the blessing by the International Atomic Energy Agency for Iran to inspect some of its own facilities and report back its findings – though two senior U.S. officials told NBC News that the unusual arrangement between the IAEA and Tehran related only to “past military activity” and that UN inspectors, including IAEA Director Yukiya Amano, would be on site to supervise the Iranians at every step of the way.

Past military activity? That makes no sense – Iran has never yet built or used a nuclear weapon, so the entire program must be under suspicion for military use, or they wouldn’t have pushed to have an agreement to ensure it didn’t get used for evil.

The wolf was allowed to inspect the chicken coop, while the rest of us turkeys shook our heads in amazement.

q_60I and others believed that Iran would eventually show its true colors, however, and expose themselves for the conniving fraudsters that they are.¬† On October 11, 2015, they did just that, with the United States confirming that Iran had just tested a medium-range missile capable of delivering a nuclear weapon, in “clear violation” of a United Nations Security Council ban on ballistic missile tests.

The logic of this escapes me, if Iran is to be taken at face value in agreeing to this JCPOA. Why spend any time, energy, money or political capital to sign such an agreement on July 14, and then to test a ballistic missile on October 11 that would clearly rustle feathers?

Unless, of course, they meant to do this as a test of the United States’ will power and resolve.¬† They could have saved the missile fuel – we could have told them that the United States would do diddly squat about this.

Samantha-Power-Meme-10-14-2015The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, said in an October 21 statement:

“The United States is deeply concerned about Iran’s recent ballistic missile launch. After reviewing the available information, we can confirm that Iran launched on Oct. 10 a medium-range ballistic missile inherently capable of delivering a nuclear weapon. This was a clear violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1929.¬†¬†The United States is preparing a report on the incident for the Security Council’s Iran Sanctions Committee and will raise the matter directly with Security Council members in the coming days,” Power said.

In the coming days?  Well, before the U.S. could act, on December 8, the New York Times reported that Iran had test-fired another ballistic missile in November:

“The Obama administration is facing another difficult choice with Iran: As Tehran takes apart much of its nuclear infrastructure to win sanctions relief, how vocally should the White House condemn Iranian violations of United Nations resolutions on other issues?

Based on the first responses Tuesday to reports that Iran had conducted yet another launch of a medium-range ballistic missile, the answer appears to be not very loudly. (emphasis mine)”

Then, on December 15, despite a new International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report that said Iran failed to fully cooperate with an investigation into its past nuclear weapons related work, the United States and the other members of the IAEA Board of Governors voted to close the book on this matter.  Unbelievable.

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano addressing the December meeting of the Board of Governors. (Credit: D. Calma/IAEA)
IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano addressing the December meeting of the Board of Governors. (Credit: D. Calma/IAEA)

The above-stated¬†IAEA Director General‚Äôs Final Assessment on Past and Present Outstanding Issues Regarding Iran‚Äôs Nuclear Programme¬†indicated that Iran engaged in ‚Äúcoordinated‚ÄĚ nuclear weapons activities until 2003 and that some nuclear-weapons work continued until 2009 – a bombshell that contradicts a controversial 2007 intelligence estimate that Iran had given up nuclear-weapons work completely in 2003.

Regardless of all these major concerns, the Obama administration did NOTHING.¬† In fact, yesterday (Saturday, July 16) Obama announced it was #ImplementationDay, the day when the International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, says that Iran has curbed its nuclear program enough to begin receiving relief on sanctions, the terms of which were laid out in the JCPOA. “Today marks the moment that the Iran nuclear agreement transitions from an ambitious set of promises on paper to measurable action in progress,” U.S Secretary of State John Kerry announced Saturday in Vienna.

And today, January 17, the US announced it was imposing fresh sanctions on Iranian companies and individuals over the recent ballistic missile tests. The new sanctions prevent 11 entities and individuals linked to the missile program from using the US banking system.

untitledI’m sorry – pardon me?¬† Imagine, telling 11 Iranians that they are international¬†bad boys, and are now restricted from¬†using¬†their ATM cards in Chicago.¬†¬† Wow, don’t¬†go crazy and tell them that Burger King in Philadelphia is off limits to them too!

I’m sure they were laughing…all the way to the bank somewhere else.¬† What a joke. Iran test-fired, then tested the resolve of the United States and its allies related to this JCPOA – and won the day. In fact, President Obama even stated today that the sanctions lifted as part of the JCPOA deal were “smart”.

Oh, Obama, they were stupid as hell – and so are you.¬† And if you have led us to ruin over this deal, as many of your “fellow citizens” as possible will be demanding your arrest, trial for crimes against humanity. and then we’ll happily strap you to the ground at the projected ground zero of the first nuclear missile that Iran launches against the Israel or the West.

Let’s see if THAT finally…blows your mind.

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Friday the 13th “Acts of War”

Islamic IslamRising: Special feature to the Calling Out Community, Posted November 15, 2015.

A body, draped with a white cloth, lies outside the Bataclan restaurant, one of several sites that ISIS fighters attacked on Friday the 13th. (Credit: CNN)
A body, draped with a white cloth, lies outside the Bataclan restaurant, attacked by ISIS November 13. (Credit: CNN)

Once again, radical Islamic terrorists have struck at the heart of France – the city of Paris – and with devastating results.

The scenes were heartbreaking, as France faced its most deadly assault since the Second World War on Friday the 13th (November 2015).  With 129 dead and over 350 injured, it follows only ten months after three terrorist attacks in the French capital took the lives of 17 people.

images2ZPARCV8French President Francois Hollande ¬†condemned the attack as an “act of war” and vowed that France “will be merciless toward the barbarians of Islamic State group.”

An emergency security meeting was called to plan the French government’s response, and upon completion, Hollande declared three days of national mourning and raised France’s security to its highest level. In a very blunt statement, the French¬†President declared:

“ISIS is a terrorist army … a jihadist army, against France, against the values that we defend everywhere in the world, against what we are: A free country that means something to the whole planet.”

He vowed to show “no mercy” to ISIS militants – and earlier today (Sunday, November 15), CNN broke the news at 1:23 PM that in fact he had already kept his word:

The French Ministry of Defense has announced what it called a major bombardment of Raqqa, Syria, an ISIS stronghold.

In one hour Sunday there were at least 20 airstrikes on the city, according to both a pro-ISIS news agency and the activist group Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently.

1086023_630x354The French have not backed down from the war rhetoric Рthey have in fact launched a large-scale military operation in response.  Which brings me to a very important point regarding the North American response to this tragedy.

Article 5 of the Charter of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, ratified on April 4, 1949 states:

Article 5

NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium
NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium

The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.Any such armed attack and all measures taken as a result thereof shall immediately be reported to the Security Council. Such measures shall be terminated when the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to restore and maintain international peace and security.

Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator - Tuesday October 7, 2014 ISIS mission reveals Liberal divide When Justin Trudeau leads the Liberal Party of Canada Monday in opposing a Canadian military mission against ISIS in Iraq, he will do so against the better judgment of many of his party√ēs grandees, who between them have influenced Canada√ēs military response to global conflicts, from Rwanda and Kosovo to Afghanistan and previous wars in Iraq. The genocidal jihadists, including Canadians and other Westerners, who fight under the banner of ISIS √íhave to be whacked, and whacked good,√ď Lloyd Axworthy, a former Liberal foreign affairs minister who aimed to put √íhuman security√ď at the heart of foreign affairs, said on CTV last week. √íIf you really want to stop them, you√ēre going to have to give a full-court press.√ď He was not alone in supporting the action Mr. Trudeau has vowed to reject, or in undermining the leader√ēs rhetoric before he used it. Former interim Liberal leader Bob Rae, for example, rejected the comparison, later made by Mr. Trudeau, to the √ífiasco√ď of the 2003 Iraq War. Former Liberal Senator Rom¬éo Dallaire dismissed a campaign of air strikes without ground troops as pointless, and former Liberal cabinet minister Ujjal Dosanjh calling for √írobust√ď Canadian military action. All these comments were made before Mr. Trudeau vowed to oppose the government motion for the ISIS mission. But by accusing Prime Minister Stephen Harper of using √íoverheated and moralistic rhetoric √Č to justify a war,√ď Mr. Trudeau has chosen a strategy that is likely to colour his political fortunes for months to come. And by favouring purely humanitarian action over military force, Mr. Trudeau seems to have broken with many of the party√ēs eminences √Ď if such a rift is already apparent, it could well go deeper. (Source: National Post) http://news.nationalpost.com/2014/10/05/isis-mission-reveals-liberal-divide-partys-grandees-express-support-for-robust-canadian-mission/ Earlier
Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday October 7, 2014

In one of his first official acts as Prime Minister, Prime Minister Trudeau called his American counterpart and philosophical ally, President Barack Obama.¬†¬†Trudeau advised the media that, during the October 23¬†phone call, he iterated Canada’s intent to pull our CF-18s out of the airstrike program against ISIS.¬† At the time, the leftwing patted its own back in self-congratulation.

That decision was meant to be ideological, and to show that Canada doesn’t get pushed around by the U.S.¬† Well, at least we’ll assume those were the goals, because frankly it just came across as stupid as hell.¬† ISIS is a known threat to Canada, has even stated previously that they will kill Canadians in their own bedrooms.¬† This incredibly immature Prime Minister, and equally pacifist Cabinet and party, honestly believes that if they just back off of ISIS, they will stop threatening us.¬† Again, stupid as hell.

Even more astounding than the government’s outrageous backtrack on international commitments and the security of Canadians is the Canadian news media’s response to it, in light of France’s current nightmare scenario. They seem incredulous – even openly stating their opposition – to Trudeau’s announced decision to continue with his plans to resettle refugees and pull our jet fighters from the fight with ISIS.¬† Some comments include:

  • Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard, a Liberal, reiterated his opposition to Trudeau‚Äôs position to shut down the combat mission even as he told reporters that Canada should not step back from its commitment to accept Syrian refugees.¬† ‚ÄúThe democratic world is at war,‚ÄĚ Couillard told reporters. ‚ÄúIt is naive to think that we are not facing a state of war, different from the wars we have known but equally threatening.‚ÄĚ
  • Rona Ambrose visits a memorial in Paris to the terrorist victims from the Friday the 13th attacks.
    Rona Ambrose visits a memorial in Paris to the terrorist victims from the Friday the 13th attacks.

    “The fight against ISIS requires a strong humanitarian response, but also a¬†military response,”¬†Rona Ambrose, Leader of the Opposition, told reporters¬†Saturday. “It’s important that we remain resolute and support our allies.” Ambrose said Prime¬†Minister¬†Justin¬†Trudeau¬†will have the full support of the Official Opposition if he chooses to¬†reverse his position on Canada’s role in the¬†airstrikes.(CBC

  • Trudeau and ISIS: Is the bombing still a bad idea?¬† (CBC, Nov. 14)
  • After Paris attacks, Trudeau‚Äôs soft power already under fire (Globe¬†& Mail, Nov. 14)
  • ‘Canada ran away‚Äô: Online jihadists celebrate Trudeau‚Äôs win as they anticipate end to¬†airstrikes (National Post, Oct. 29)
Foreign Minister Lester B. Pearson signs the North Atlantic Treaty in 1949. (Credit: NATO)
Foreign Minister Lester B. Pearson signs the North Atlantic Treaty in 1949. (Credit: NATO)

Canada’s current government, under Prime Minister Trudeau, has absolutely no right to unilaterally ¬†pull out of NATO obligations – the organization has protected the nations of the North Atlantic for 67 years.

The Friday the 13th attacks by ISIS/ISIL, unlike any other terrorist attacks seen on a large scale in recent history, were a coordinated effort by a Sunni Muslim jihadist terrorist group that is in fact an army Рwith tanks, armed personnel carriers, rocket launchers and many other sophisticated weapons, as well as an estimated 20,000 troops, according to the Telegraph.

How do they afford to arm themselves?  The Foreign Policy site reported:

ISIS captured many tanks from the Iraqi army, including the relatively modern Soviet T-72, of which it may have as many as 10.
ISIS captured many tanks from the Iraqi army, including the relatively modern Soviet T-72, of which it may have as many as 10.

Much of the Islamic State’s arms and ammunition were captured on the battlefield, but intelligence reports have suggested that the group’s income from oil sales and other sources is high enough to finance purchases of additional weapons directly from the companies and dealers that routinely profit from strife in the Middle East. 

While the complete list of countries is unknown, Newsweek stated on September 16 that the United States, Russia, France, Great Britain, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Syria, Israel and Iran are all fighting ISIS.¬† Canada wasn’t mentioned I guess in error.

ISIS territory mapped (The Economist, June 2015)
ISIS territory mapped (The Economist, June 2015)

Unlike Al Qaeda, Boko Haram or any other previously seen terrorist group, ISIS has a set geographic area of the world in which they are headquartered and operate – or more appropriately to state, which they have majority “control” over.

Territory is both being conquered and lost by ISIS on an almost daily basis. In fact, the venerable New York Times reported, on the morning of Friday the 13th, that several factions of Kurdish and Yazidi fighters had just retaken the city of Sinjar from ISIS fighters.

Satellite map showing the first day of fighting over the city of Sinjar, which Kurdish forces retook from ISIS on November 13. (Credit: Planet Labs)

They have a “capital city” of sorts – in Raqqa, Syria – which is exactly where French fighter pilots have attacked just today.

I’ve had it with President Obama and his pacifist BS. I’ve had it with “Prime Minister” Trudeau and his weak, emasculated, pathetic (I’m trying not to swear so this’ll have to do) world philosophy.

As my beloved home-away-from-home Paris was burned, bombed and blown up, over 350 hundred were rushed to hospitals, and 129 were driven to the morgue, in a series of coordinated attacks on Friday the 13th (not likely a coincidental date) I grew angry enough watching the news clips to fly over there, grab a gun and start defending her.

What did the two pathetic leftwing pantywaists have to say? Obama called it an “attack on humanity” – which basically dismissed it from being an attack on a sovereign nation like France, so he could cover his bases possibly if the NATO Charter was invoked; or an attack on a Western power, because frankly this socialist doesn’t give a damn about the West, including his own country.¬† But at least the US is still fighting ISIS regardless.

Justin-TrudeauPrime Minister Justin Trudeau offered ‚Äúall of Canada‚Äôs support‚ÄĚ to France on Friday night in the wake of ‚Äúdeeply worrying‚ÄĚ terrorist attacks.

ALL of our support? That doesn’t include our military obviously, as he just ordered them out of the fight against ISIS, and confirmed 24 hours ago that, regardless of the horror played out Paris, that the stupidity would continue.

Trudeau is giving lip service to mass murder. We should be ashamed of this asshole. I know I am.¬† It wasn’t an attack on humanity – it was an attack on a Western power, the second in France alone in 10 months. Both were horrific events that brought the world to a standstill.

I’m sorry to remind both of you pantywaists this, but France is a member of NATO. French President Hollande has declared the Friday the 13th terrorist attacks an ACT OF WAR. Under the NATO Charter,¬† both Canada and the United States may¬†have a legal responsibility to come to the aid of a member nation when attacked in an act of war.

The Jerusalem Post has asked the question – will France invoke Article 5 of the NATO Charter, as NATO did after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States.¬† The Post doesn’t think France will actually do it, however.

Regardless, how dare¬†you violate a 67-year old international accord for your own ideological purposes? This must be discussed by the people and/or the Parliament of Canada.¬† Canada deserves better leadership than this.¬† We are pulling out of Syria only because air strikes were started under the Conservatives.¬† Would you have pulled out of D-Day for the same reasons?¬† The Korean War?¬† We think you would –¬†which is why we will never trust you, nor acknowledge you as our Prime Minister.¬† You are a coward, a sham leader, and the global village idiot.

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Back to the Beaches…Again

by Calling Out Community, Posted June 6, 2015

The Regina Rifles regiment before deployment. My Uncle Clayton was one of them. Credit: Regina Rifles
The Regina Rifles regiment before deployment. My Uncle Clayton was one of them. Credit: Regina Rifles

71 years ago this morning (June 6, 1944) my Uncle Clayton Cross was on a landing craft with a handful of other prairie boys, crossing the English Channel from the relatively safe British coast, embarking on an adventure into Nazi-occupied France, and their target, code-named “Juno Beach” – an adventure that would take another full year to realize fully.

Just the thought of it amazes me. My uncle was a mild-mannered farm boy raised near Kipling, Sask. Most in his regiment – the Regina Rifles – probably hadn’t been outside Canada before. Their Dads always taught them NEVER to point their hunting rifles at another person. They had fears and dreams just like we do. And suddenly everything they knew was upside down.

What they were ordered to do for us was impossible, unthinkable… yet the future of civilization depended¬†on their success. What a burden was placed on them – to trade their farm chores or college classes or first real jobs or high school sweethearts for assault rifles to defend our “King and Empire” – to¬†kill or be killed.

Juno (Canadian) Beach - September, 2009. Credit: Shawn Jorgensen
Juno (Canadian) Beach – September, 2009. Credit: Shawn Jorgensen

These young people didn’t stage protests about: how ‘unfair’ this war was, how much it cost, the fact it was being fought in places we couldn’t even pronounce, or that it had nothing to do with Canada. Civilian casualties in this terrible war numbered as high as 80 million – or 2.5% of the world’s population. No one yet was even saying a word about that.

None of these soldiers leaked to the media that they had only trained for WEEKS for this “D-Day invasion” against superior German soldiers who had conquered Europe AND planned defences against such an attack for 3 YEARS. The entire Canadian Army, Navy and Air Force numbered 1 million – but more than 20 million Germans wore their uniform at some point, a staggering number larger than our country’s entire population at that time.

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Waves of Allied ships steaming toward the coast of France, June 6, 1944 (D-Day)

It must have been hard to process the sight of 5,000 ships – spread out in every direction as far as you could see – and know they carried 500,000 men just like you, all steaming at the same time and to the same place. I wonder if they felt they were part of something monumental?

In September 2009, I stood on Juno Beach in the Canadian Sector – and realized quickly there was absolutely nowhere to hide. As my Uncle’s boots hit shore he was aware that some friends were already dead. They were sitting ducks on a flat, miles-long beach with an impossible military objective. By the end of D-Day alone (June 6), more than 360 Canadians were dead, and 700 more wounded. Perspective? We had 153 casualties in the ENTIRE 12-YEAR WAR in Afghanistan, our longest conflict ever.

But these farm boys were used to hard work and sacrifice. So they left the boats on purpose, as fresh-faced KIDS – and stepped onto the beach as MEN undertaking the largest military invasion in world history.

Acres of perfectly-placed crosses and Stars of David - more than 9,600 of them from D-Day alone - at the American Cemetary near Pointe du Hoc, France - site of the Omaha Beach/ Normandy landings on D-Day. Credit: Shawn Jorgensen, September 2009
Acres of perfectly-placed crosses and Stars of David – more than 9,600 of them from D-Day alone – at the American Cemetary near Pointe du Hoc, France – site of the Omaha Beach/ Normandy landings on D-Day. Credit: Shawn Jorgensen, September 2009

D-Day was just the first day 1 of nearly a year of fighting to come – and the Canadian Army was the only one to meet their objectives that day. The First Canadian Army alone liberated the Netherlands, and to this day Canada is celebrated there during “Liberation Day” every year – bringing our country into a new age of influence and respect around the world, which we still enjoy.

My Uncle was one of the lucky ones he came home, raised a family, and died an old man in his bed, with his loved ones around him. To my late Uncle Clayton and all the “boys from back home” – who either came back as men or as memories, I say “thank you for paying the price”. Because Freedom is NEVER free.

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