During the month of November, I remember and give thanks to everyone currently serving in the Canadian Armed Forces. My blog for today pays tribute to the Royal Canadian Navy with a series of pictures that I took of the HMCS Toronto FFH 333 sailing in the St. Lawrence River in 2017.
The HMCS Toronto is a general purpose warship with a particular focus on anti-submarine capabilities. It was commissioned in her namesake city on July 29, 1993. It has a top speed of 30 knots (56 km/h), an operational displacement of 4,795 tonnes, and a length of 134 metres. With a complement of some 225 people, it includes a variety of armaments and a flight deck to support helicopter operations. This Canadian designed and built ship is also known as a Halifax-class frigate and it was one of twelve built and named after major cities across Canada from each province. Its motto is "Excellence with Vigour,” which I can totally resonate with.
At present, it is my understanding that Canada's navy comprises some 13,000 personnel and 30 ships. Canada and Russia are the only nation states that completely border three oceans, and I suppose we could also add the United States to that short list if we consider their territory of Alaska giving them that extra reach. So, our men and women in service certainly have a huge role and responsibility to play in protecting and promoting our way of life at sea!
On the topic of mottos, two of my all-time favourites that I apply in my photography work are: "the early bird gets the worm" and "luck favours the prepared.”
On this mighty fine day, I got both by getting up at zero 300 hours to create the four images you see here. My first photo of the HMCS Toronto FFH 333 occurred at zero 500 hours with Le Pont de Québec and Le Pont Pierre-Laporte in front of me. This spectacular perspective also benefited from a natural orange-pink glow cresting off the water from the sun rising behind my back. With patience and the support of my wife, I then waited nine hours to take the next three images. As I took those final three images with great excitement, I could see that all the sailors standing side-by-side on the deck at perfect attention in white uniforms also showed a massive amount of patience too, as they ceremoniously sailed by the Château Frontenac and other landmarks during the Tall Ships flotilla.
What a view for me and them, and I totally understand why they would risk it all for it, so thank you. As an extra remembrance moment, this was also the day that my wife told me that she wanted to be a photographer alongside me, and she captured one of these images with my camera too! :)
If I ever have the life chance to photograph our navy ships sailing into a rising sun over the ocean horizon, or slicing through the torrent waves of a massive storm, then I'd take that opportunity in a heart beat! No fear, and all in.
Statues remind us that war and conflict impacts all facets of life, yet seldom respected in their own right are animals and the roles they have played.
A bronze plaque next to this statue notes, "for centuries, animals have demonstrated an enduring partnership with humans during times of war. They have served as a means of transportation, beast of burden, messengers, protectors, and mascots. Still today, dogs use their unique, sharply tuned instincts to detect mine clusters, and conduct search and rescue operations. We remember the contribution and sacrifice of all animals."
This statue can be found in Ottawa, Ontario. It profiles the role of dogs in being able to find and assist wounded soldiers. With care and training, some breads of dogs were seen as nimble field medics who could more effectively run medical supplies (strapped to their backs) up and down the line. Their physiology and natural ability to run low to the ground was seen as a major tactical advantage, as dogs could more easily move below enemy fire, and once they arrived at their destination, they could more easily stay low to help soldiers lying on the ground reach the supplies they carried. Dogs were also seen as merciful, as they sat next to dying soldiers to provide some semblance of comfort.
Animals, as war mascots, is a particularly fascinating topic. On one level, I have come to recognize that a significant number of military machines are named after animals, or the things they do in nature. For example, in Canada, we have the CH-149 Cormorant; the Airbus CC-295 Kingfisher; the Bae CT-155 Hawk; the Bell CH-146 Griffon; the Leopard 2 battle tank; and the Coyote Light Armoured Vehicle just to list a few examples. On another level, I have come to recognize that a lot of flags, emblems and badges also prominently feature animals to quickly convey the cultural symbolism they offer. One of my favourites is the use of the beaver by the Van Doos. Yet, perhaps the most fascinating of all, is that one of my all-time favourite childhood characters (and authors) growing up was inspired by a Canadian soldier in WW1 named Lieutenant Harry Colebourn, and his black bear cub named "Winnipeg", or "Winnie" for short.
Growing up I had winnie-the-pooh toys, bedsheets, and story books, but until this moment, I had forgotten the full history behind this bear until I started researching this topic for my November blog tribute to remembrance. Lest we forget, all forms of life are impacted by war and conflict, and more often than not, we look to other forms of life for identity and service.
This is a composite image that I created from a photo by Edward Burtynsky (2014) entitled, Abandoned Railbed, which was etched by William Lazos into one of the main concrete blocks at Canada’s National Holocaust Monument in Ottawa, Ontario.
A plaque next to this war art reads, "Sometimes deliberately, sometimes though force of nature, forests served to mask the evidence of genocide. Along this rail spur, almost 1 million people were transported to the Treblinka killing centre hidden within these woods. Approximately 900,000 Jews and an estimated 2000 Roma and Sinti were gassed to death at Treblinka." Lest we forget.
This is a composite image that I created from a shockingly vile photo by Edward Burtynsky (2014) entitled, “Fence”, which is powerfully etched into one the main concrete blocks at Canada’s National Holocaust Monument in Ottawa, Ontario.
It depicts our nation, like many others, standing up to one of the darkest moments in human history by showing the barbed-wire electric fencing that the Nazi’s used and erected at their largest killing centres in Auschwitz and Birkenau, Poland. A silver plaque next to this war art notes that approximately 960,000 Jews and 120,000 Poles, Roma, Sinti, and Soviets were murdered at Auschwitz with horror, terror and cruelty. A picture like this – and everything it symbolizes - could have only been taken and composed under the powerful march towards release and peace, as the Schutzstaffel (SS) on site at the time would have most certainly, swiftly and severely executed anyone that dared challenge their (delusional) 1000-year reich and völkisch visions.
When I look at this image all I can see is blood, ash, and an unfathomably insane degree of malevolence that somehow became state sponsored and tolerated for a while. Trying to figure out why and how could easily fill an entire lifetime of intellectual energy. As Andrea Pitzer writes, while the advent of barbed wire and automatic weapons allowed the few to more easily imprison the many, history shows us that concentration camps existed long before Auschwitz. Even beloved Canada, who has long proven and chosen to be more peace faring than belligerent in the international community, had internment camps during WWI and WWII, yet obviously no where near the extent of the Nazis, but still obviously deplorable and unconscionable. In 1988, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney offered an official apology of past internment actions against Japanese-Canadians. In fairness, many Germans, and even some army officers like Claus von Stauffenberg, could no longer tolerate the trajectory and barbary of Nazism either, and (unsuccessfully) attempted to stop it from within.
While western liberal democracies were ultimately slow to entre into total war with the Nazis in the 1930s, they eventually did because Nazism (and all it stood for) could simply be no longer tolerated under any conditions. Lest we forget the people who fell, and the character of their ideals that took a stance against Nazism.
This is Canada's National Aboriginal Veterans Monument, which was "raised in sacred and everlasting honour of the contributions of all Aboriginal Canadians in war and peacekeeping operations".
Located in Ottawa, Ontario, this monument was sculpted by Lloyd Pinay of the Peepeekisis First Nation in Saskatchewan. To learn more about this impressive statue, and how Pinay expresses the idea that the desire for peace often lies at the root of war, click here.
While in Québec City I came across this statue, which honours the Canadians who died during the Boer War (1899-1902) in South Africa.
I had never heard of the Boer War, but as it turns out, this battle marked the first foreign campaign and conflict that Canada officially participated in. We supported the British, as one of her Dominion states, who led the charge. At the time Canada did not yet have a formal military in place, so approximately 7,000 Canadian volunteers participated in the conflict, of which 270 died. Altogether, Canada fielded one Regiment, two Battalions, and three Batteries. Sculpted by Hamilton T.C. MacCarthy (1846 - 1939). To learn more about the Canadian context of this war, click here.
Aujourd’hui, je me souviens des sacrifices faits par les membres du Royal 22e Régiment, qui sont familièrement connus sous le nom de « Van Doos ». J’ai lu que les Van Doos sont le seul régiment d’infanterie français au Canada. Ce monument est situé au manège militaire Grande-Allée à Québec, et il est dédié aux membres du Royal 22e Régiment qui ont donné leur vie lors de divers conflits et missions de maintien de la paix à travers le monde. Sculpté par André Gauthier. Ne l'oublions pas.
During my backpacking adventures across the United Kingdom, I came across this wonderful team statue that memorializes every firefighter in the United Kingdom that has died in the line of duty since 1892 - including all the firefighters who died during the blitz of WWII. A total of no less than 1,192 names are inscribed on the memorial, and you can read these names in a digital book by clicking here.
I created this composite image after learning more about the history behind this statue. I can see how this crew, and many others like it, charged into selfless action to save life and property. I can see how they stood their ground to battle back the searing flames and chocking smoke engulfing them from the relentless pounding of areal bombardments. I can see the living hell they worked and died in, and I can see the British people being forever thankful by honouring them.
The Blitz, as the English would call it, was a German bombing campaign against the United Kingdom in WWII. It commenced on September 7, 1940, and lasted for a period of 57 days and nights. During this time, London was repeatedly bombed on a daily basis by the Luftwaffe (German Air Force) of the Wehrmacht (the armed forces of Nazi Germany). Other major cities were bombed too, but not as often as London.
Some scholars think the blitz bombings were done to terrorize and waver British psychology from fighting further. Others see it differently by thinking the blitz bombings were done to degrade and slow down the productivity of the British military industrial complex. I suppose both ideas are equally plausible, but one thing is for sure, whatever the drive the Luftwaffe ultimately proved ineffective in stopping the resolve of the British.
On one level, perhaps the Luftwaffe proved ineffective because the firefighters who jumped into action were able to stop the spread of further damage from the ravages of fire. On another level, perhaps the Luftwaffe proved ineffective because their bomber fleet and bomb technology was simply (and thankfully) not as efficient as their ideological propaganda had made it appear to be. Just imagine if they had atomic weaponry on just one of those 57 days of bombardment! On yet another level, perhaps the Luftwaffe proved ineffective because the United Kingdom became ever more resourceful by employing new counter strategies and tactics like its nascent use of radar technology. Yet, its radar systems of the time, much like Germany's Luftwaffe of the time, were not completely efficient either. Bombers still slipped through detection, albeit less and less, and history shows us that those bombers did not do much to change the trajectory of the war. Yet, they certainly caused a lot of havoc, fires and death in the process.
The word bliz is short for the German word "blitzkrieg", which translated into English means "lightning war". The idea ultimately speaks to a military tactic that seeks to create psychological shock and disorganization by using surprise, speed, and overwhelming firepower superiority in a short burst of time.
This statue was sculpted by John W. Mills. Jeffrey credits the two bombs used in his composite image to a NewZar polish news blog that did a feature on how a WWII bomb was found while doing work on Gdańsk railway station. Yet, I believe the bombs that would have been most likely used during the Blitz campaign would have been the Sprengbombe Cylindrisch 250 bomb.
During my backpacking adventures across Argentina, I came across this statue of a German signalman from WWII. These soldiers were tasked with laying cables on the battlefield to create the conditions for telecommunications and signals intelligence operations.
The ability to perform - faster and secure - communications over greater distances became an increasingly important necessity during 20th century warfare. The power and embrace of communication systems offered its users several tactical advantages, and ultimately these advantages fed mindsets that sought to perform military operations with ever-increasing effectiveness and efficiency.
However, in the theatre of war, everything is a double edge sword, and intercepted communications could just as easily create lethal conditions, and tactical disadvantages. After all, better knowing your opponent's next move in a "fog of war" context is most always a strategic boon. So, the communications established also began to rely on other sub-systems of management to keep prying eyes and ears occupied. On the one hand, the systematic use of codes was increasingly added into the communications mix to offer another unique layer of human interaction, so that messages - even if intercepted - needed to be cracked (if the message was not intended for you) or deciphered (if the message was intended for you). The idea of assuming people could not understand your foreign language to them was no longer alone sufficient. On another hand, sometimes coded communications purposefully put forth misinformation to test the integrity of the system, or to just outright confuse and bluff the enemy into false-positive or false-negative moves.
What I find most fascinating about this simple statue is that it provides a double nuance on the idea of remembrance - first, it offers us a past depiction of a soldier in WWII, but secondly, it also offers us a perspective on how soldiers in WWII attempted to facilitate communications by unfurling roles of cable from a backpack. The backpack of wound up cable almost gives it a nostalgic effect - remember when we used land line phones to communicate? Even the idea of speaking to another colleague in code, and them having to devote some time to deciphering the message so that they could understand you, now appears nostalgic when we think about all the real-time encryption algorithms and authentication systems that seamlessly operate on our behalf to perform things like financial transactions with others. Could you see a 21st century solider doing this cable laying activity in a world where we now have satellites in outer space to relay instant messages? Lest we forget, the use of technology in warfare, and how it has changed our lives over the ages - both on and off the battlefield.
And, in case you are wondering, why would a statue like this be in Argentina? Well, that answer would be certainly complex, but I think it speaks to the idea that Argentina and the Axis powers (particularly Germany and Italy) shared many cultural affinities at the time, and they maintained communications during the war even if Argentina was ultimately viewed as neutral leaning for most of WWII. So, perhaps there is even more symbolism at play in this statue?
As a kid I recall playing pen-and-paper games that involved cracking codes to reveal secret messages - I found them so incredibly fun. I wonder if they still print those code breaker books?
This artwork can be found at the Museum of the Great Patriotic War in Moscow, Russia. It depicts scenes from the Battle of Stalingrad (August 23, 1942 to February 2, 1943), which is regarded as one of the bloodiest battles of WWII. It basically involved the Soviets on defense, and the Germans and Italians on offence. A staggering number of people - civilians and military alike - were killed during this time. Aerial bombardments, artillery bombardments, tank to tank warfare, guerilla warfare, propaganda warfare, house-to-house fighting, snipers, and when the ammo ran low on both sides, hand-to-hand fighting. The city was decimated by war, starvation and disease.
These displays of art were incredibly massive, intricate and immersive by mixing military hardware with artistic paintings. The cover photo shows German troops marching into Stalingrad (now called Volgograd) during the winter. On the periphery you can see men frozen in the snow where they fell, or perhaps fell where they froze. The next series of photos shows the Soviets battling back with everything they had - "not a step back" was their moto. A march, and stance, that would ultimately prove perilous for everyone involved. As history would come to record, this battle marked the beginning of the end for the Nazi march on the eastern front. Yet, when we consider the number of Soviets killed to hold the line, and then push back, it would be a stretch in propaganda and patriotism to claim it was a great victory. On both sides, it was do or die in more ways than one. +
During my backpacking adventures in Moscow, I visited the Museum of the Great Patriotic War. The scale of this building - like just about everything else is Russia - is colossal. Its rooms are so massive that it's impossible to completely fix-frame anything within your field of view. If you want to see the grandeur of it all, then you will need to stand still and pivot your neck - left, right and up - as far as you can. Simply phenomenal, but as a photographer, it drove me crazy trying to perform wide-angle photography here.
The museum is located on Poklonnaya Hill, and one of my favorite rooms (if I can call it that) was the "Hall of Glory" (featured here). The size of this hall was so expansive that my 16mm camera lens could only capture a quarter of its dimensions. The picture you see here was taken by me literally lying flat against the floor - on my back doing a crunchy - desperately trying to squeeze in as much real estate as I could. Oh, the things us photographers do to get the shot. Yet, even with all the acrobatics involved, this was the best I could do. If I ever have the chance to visit again, I'll be sure to bring my 11mm camera lens to give myself a fighting chance at trying to capture it all without a panorama technique.
At the top of the frame is the "Order of Victory" star (surrounded by a ring wreath) - it was the highest military award offered for WWII service in the Soviet Union. In the middle stands a massive "Soldier of Victory" in bronze cast, which was sculpted by VI Znoba. Etched on the circular, white marble wall of the room is the names of 11,800 Russian soldiers. These select few among the millions who died are regarded as "Heroes of the Soviet Union" for holding, and then pushing back, the Nazi advance.
During WWII, it is wildly recognized that the Soviet Union experienced the greatest amount of war causalities - both in terms of military personnel and civilians. While pin pointing the exact number is difficult, it is estimated that the Soviet Union suffered no less than 8.6 million military deaths. When you also consider the additional impacts of famine and disease that ravaged the Union during this timeframe, the numbers of military and civilian deaths combined swelled to no less than 26.6 million people. Just staggering. During WWII, no nation state paid a higher price in terms of human life than the Soviet Union. In contrast, Germany ultimately lost the war (against almost everyone) with no more than 5.3 million military deaths.
Not to be outdone, "The Hall of Commanders" and the "Hall of Sorrow" also located in the Museum of the Great Patriotic War were equally grand, so I'll be sure to profile them in a future blog.
More than any other city I have seen to date, Moscow is by far the most copious when it comes to the display of war art, war statues and military vehicles and hardware displayed everywhere throughout its city, but especially so at this museum.
Since 1919, Canada (like other commonwealth countries) has reserved the 11th of November as an annual day of solemn reflection – a day to reflect and exalt the observance of those who died in military service. Originally, November 11th was referred to as “Armistice Day”, and its focus centred on commemorating the dead of World War I (July 1914 - November 2018).
An armistice is an agreement made by opposing sides in a war to stop fighting for a certain time. In the context of WWI, an armistice between the Allies of the time and Germany took effect on the "eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month" of 1918. As the armistice held, and total war ceased, World War I officially ended with the Allies and Germany signing the Treaty of Versailles in June of 1919.
Sadly, however, humans have a horible track record in not repeating past atrocities, and “the war to end all wars” never materialized. After World War II (March 1939 - September 1945), Armistice Day began to take on a greater meaning of observance by including the people who died in WW2, as well as WW1.
Today, Armistice Day is now referred to as Remembrance Day in Canada, and it is much more holistic in scope as it honours both the fallen and the veterans of every conflict that Canada has served in. Lest we forget, not everyone dies in a campaign of war, and our veterans can and do carry a heavy weight throughout the remainder of their lives too.
For me, I tend to think about WW2 battles and campaigns the most on Remembrance Day. For Canadians, this would include the battle of the Atlantic, the battle of Britain, the defence of Hong Kong, the Dieppe raid, the Italian campaign, and the Battle of Normandy. To learn more about these major life altering events, click here.
I do not know why I think about these conflicts the most. Perhaps it is because I learned about them the most in school. Perhaps, it is because the “enemy” wore a unique uniform and it was clearly identifiable. Perhaps mainstream media has focused on them more. Or, perhaps it is because we can see with crystal clarity all of the calamity that humans can extol in such a short, extreme order.
From the gassing of humans in showers, to the total obliteration of a people with atomic weaponry – the situations that unfolded during WWII are most surely a bit too much to take all in one dose. The rapid advancement of weaponry in all possible theaters of war – land, air, water – during WWII served as a fascinating testament to our global capacity for ingenuity and innovation when pushed. Lest we forget, however, this type of ingenuity is ultimately a double-edge sword and it cuts both ways. WWII also marked a real turning point in the mindset of battle by fixating strategy and tactics on how to kill and to survive with optimal efficiency and effectiveness. Altogether, the significance and impact of WWII is both awful and awesome when viewed from multiple perspectives. Yet, at the heart and soul of the matter was the ideology of Nazism, and everything it stood for – its fascism, its antisemitism, its total distain for both liberalism and communism, and its extreme nationalism. Lest we forget, WWII was a total war. On Remembrance Day, I also try to reflect on everyone killed and injured during that period of time – not just Canadians. In this light, we can see how countries like Russia lost a shocking amount of people – soldiers and civilians alike – by standing up to Nazism among other things. While I cannot attest to its accuracy, I once read that 80% of soviet males born in 1923 had died during WWII.
Thankfully, the brave sacrifices performed by all during this dark period in human history was able to stop the advance of Nazism. Its symbols, trinkets and flags have rightfully fallen, and are now preserved in museums under glass coffins to help us remember that some ideologies are just not tolerable under any condition.
On Remembrance Day, we not only remember the fallen and veterans, but also the ideologies we stand for and the histories we respect. It really is an incredibly important day, and so very worthy of deep reflection in giving life definition!
During my backpacking adventures across Japan, I visited Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park - the war memorial of war memorials. In the foreground, you can see the Cenotaph for Atomic Bomb Victims. This Cenotaph was designed in 1952 by Kenzo Tange – a professor at the University of Tokyo. By looking through the arch, you can see the remnants of the Prefectural Industrial Promotional Hall in the background. This UNESCO world heritage site and building is now commonly referred to as the Genbaku dome (or the Hiroshima Peace Memorial). This building (profiled better in another image) holds immense cultural significance, as it rests almost directly underneath the hypocentre of the first atomic bomb ever dropped on humans.
On August 6, 1945, at 8:15:17 a.m. local time, an atomic bomb was released over Hiroshima, Japan, from a Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber, nicknamed the Enola Gay. The bomb was codenamed, "Little Boy", and there was nothing diminutive about it when it exploded 60 metres above ground. By 8:16:00 a.m., those far enough from the hypocentre to survive reported seeing a “brilliant flash” (pika ピカ) followed by a “booming sound” (don ドン). In a flash of light, twelve square kilometres of Hiroshima had been obliterated. The first devastating punch came from an immense blast of energy involving some 16 kilotons of TNT force, which was immediately superseded by a searing blast of thermal radiation that engulfed the area in a fireball and unleased a punishing high-pressure shockwave. If that alone was not enough to decimate a people, an even greater display of wrath unfurled with an ensuing blast of ionizing radiation, which would go on to inflict further pain and suffering well beyond the moment with an insidious presence of radiation residue in the air, water and soil.
The dawn of the atomic age had started, and the electromagnetic pulse discharged from the explosion had stopped the hands of clocks to lock down the precise moment in human history it happened. The immediate cost was tens of thousands of lives (upwards of 140,000 people) and the total destruction of 70% of Hiroshima’s buildings. Yet, among the carnage and ash, the Genbaku held its ground, while its occupants were incinerated. The hibakusha (the Japanese word given to a person affected by the atomic bomb) located far enough to immediately survive the blast zone would go on to tell their stories with sickening photography to back it up. Today, Hiroshima is completely rebuilt and very modern. The cataclysmic pain and suffering that occurred on August 6, 1945 in Hiroshema now serves as a point of remembrance and a beacon of hope for world peace and the elimination of all nuclear weapons.
From a photography perspective, the Enola Gay was accompanied by two other plans, one of which would later come to be known as Necessary Evil. This plane was used as a camera plane to photograph the explosion and its effects. As a photographer, I can't even begin to imagine what I might have thought if I had been tasked to photograph the first ever atomic bomb unfurling its detonation over a populated land and then mushrooming back into the atmosphere with a roaring vengeance. Tell me, what would you be thinking if you were the photographer aboard the Necessary Evil. Would you be thinking about your shutter speed and exposure values, or something more profound? Lest we forget.
This is a composite image. It shows a fallen soldier ascending into everlasting peace by "The Angel of Victory" - a statue sculpted by Coeur de Lion McCarthy in 1922 for the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) to commemorate the 1,115 CPR workers killed during the First World War.
This is one of my all-time favourite statues - involving war art - that I have come across during my travels. When I look at this statue I feel an immense sensation of calmness and completeness - both for me and this soldier. I can see that sacrifices made in the name of hope, goodness, and humanity can never be lost in vain. Even if we fail in our pursuits, this statue's transcendence and strong embrace shows that a greater power of salvation will be there to greet us. Even if some amongst us forget, or some amongst us ignore, or some amongst us choose to desecrate the very actions and ideals that befell the man, the power of salvation is there to ensure that all is not lost in vain - and especially so for those who have extolled the virtues of fortitude and charity in life.
The following words are inscribed at the foot of this statue, which is located in Vancouver, BC: "To commemorate those in the service of the Canadian Pacific Railway Company who, at the call of king and country, left all that was dear to them. Endured hardship, faced dangers and finally passed out of sight of men by the path of duty and self sacrifice. Giving up their own lives that others might live in freedom. Let those who come after see to it that their names be not forgotten."
This is a composite image of a soldier carrying a bayonet - which allows a gun to be used as a thrusting spear in close quarter combat. I came across this statue during my backpacking adventures in Chile. I recall feeling scared by this sight, and to convey that in my photography, I lowered the vantage point of my camera and assumed that I was the one just impaled. Oh what a terrible, final, sight this must have been to those who fell before they could see the fruits of their ultimate sacrifice. Lest we forget.
This is a composite image of a soldier carrying a flamethrower on his back and projecting a controllable jet of fire. I came across this statue during my backpacking adventures in Chile. I recall finding this statue profoundly haunting and confusing. I recall asking myself: "why, would anyone want to profile this through public art"? But then, I began to slowly understand.
Somehow, this statue prompted me to begin thinking about early humans, and how they must have felt, as they began to better control and manipulate earthly elements like fire. How they must have felt so incredibly powerful by learning how to control fire to offer light during darkness, to offer warmth during coldness, to offer greater food safety and options through cooking, and to offer greater ingenuity through metallurgy and fabrication. I wonder how they would feel, however, knowing that generations later we would powerfully control fire to flash onto the skin of other humans, or flush them out of a fortified dug in bunker? All very confusing and upsetting to see how truly wonderful things like the control of fire can be used in malevolent ways.
Thankfully, I now understand that the military use of flamethrowers is restricted through the Protocol on Incendiary Weapons - a United Nations treaty. During this time of remembrance, I believe it is ok to feel confused, and statues like these can help us unpack that confusion.
Statues remind us that war and conflict is a constant found in every age, yet seldom equally depicted across the ages are statues of women and the valiant strides they have performed for the greater good of their compatriots. As we near to November 11th, today's w(ar)t picture reminds me that women have always played a critical role in addressing conflict and creating the conditions for peace. While Sancta Joanna DeArc is among the greatest profiled, she is certainly not the only.
This beautiful statue offers a tribute to the soldiers who died in the historic battle between the French and British on the Plains of Abraham in Québec City. Lest we forget, it also speaks to the sacrifices and contributions of women in every conflict, who sadly have not been equally profiled to the same extent as men.
This is a composite image of a battle tank used in WWII. It now stands still at Canada's National Military Cemetery. While its resting place does not look like this, and will never look like this, I can see how a swirl of colours and emotions once consumed the people inside this war-purposed machine. I can see contradictory moments of red hot anger, red hot power, red hot excitement, and red hot energy. Yet, ultimately I can also see warm red passion and love to go through the pain of it all so that others need not. Lest we forget.
This is a composite image of a battle tank used in WWII. It now stands still at Canada's National Military Cemetery. While its resting place does not look like this, and will never look like this, I can see the brave souls who sat behind the wheel of this machine. I can hear the tank firing earlier in the day, it was so loud. I can see the brave souls sitting uncomfortably in this steel machine late at night, wishing they could close their eyes for just a moment, but realizing with the glow of fires ablaze in the near horizon there would be again no restful pose tonight. I can see what they did for our freedom, and I can only imagine what they drove through. Lest we forget.
An M4A2 Sherman tank built by the Fisher Body Grand Blanc, MI Tank Arsenal, rests on display next to the Salaberry Armoury, Régiment de Hull. Tanks like these were used by the Allies during WWII. The Salaberry Armoury was built in 1938-39 by Hull architect Lucien Sarra-Bournet, and is named in memory of Colonel Charles Michel de Salaberry – a hero of the war of 1812. The building is now considered a "recognized federal heritage building", as it is associated with the development of Canada’s militia regiments during the interwar years. It is one of twelve armouries constructed between the First and Second World Wars. To learn more about the history of this building, click here.
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