New thoughts on aging tradition – honouring the vets

New thoughts on aging tradition – honouring the vets

HodgePodge, By Charlie Hodge

Our country and our world is in a severe state of chaos and division – significantly focused around rights, a perceived loss of rights, and personal focus rather than big picture planning. All of which are understandable and, well, very ‘human’. Yet destructive.

Regardless, the depressing and concerning state of our city and country inspired a thought last night as I tried to sleep.

We need to look into our past again to appreciate today and our foggy future.

November 11 nigh on my brain also blended into the question, “What would our war veterans such as Grandpa Atkinson and Uncle Roy think of how we are currently acting?

I believe they’d be sad and sorely disappointed.

COVID-19 may be killing people physically; however, its wave of destruction around the world is much more encompassing than just physically fatal. It is damaging our kindness, respect, patience, tolerance, caring for others, trust, and greatest of all love. Yes, our human psyche is being significantly clouted about.

Sadly – like you – I have no idea where it will take us.

My Uncle Roy was a bright eyed, cheerful, positive young man who answered the call to defend the new country of Canada, United Kingdom and the rest of the free world from the madman across the water. He left behind his two sisters, proud parents, and loyal hunting dog, as he waved goodbye and hopped on the troop train. It was the last he saw of his Penticton home.

Like so many, he was a proud young Trooper decked out in his B.C. Dragoons uniform and attached overseas to ‘C’ Squadron of the 9th Armoured Regiment. After months of hard slogging his squadron had found their way into Italy in an area known as the Gothic Line.

The morning of Sept. 1, 1944 had already been a disaster for Allied forces with heavy German bombardment nailing the Canadians relentlessly. That horror was further compounded when a barrage of ‘friendly fire’ also began to decimate his comrades. However, Roy and his tank crew managed to survive all of that and pushed further into enemy territory.

Horrendously poor judgment by commanding officers ordered Roy’s squad forward into a massive trap and according to witnesses, just as Roy’s tank crested a hill it took a direct hit from a German anti-tank gun, killing all aboard but two. Roy was only 21.

All my life Roy’s picture has remained on my mantle as a reminder of how lucky I am that he gave up his young life so that I and others could live in this marvelous country with all of our often taken for granted rights and freedoms.

Today his picture somehow seems even sadder as I feel so much of the good he and his fellow veterans fought for is vaporizing before us.

It seems we are all quite happy to fight each other. We are becoming harsh, unforgiving and selfish. We need to get a grip again.

Ironically I often wonder if our Charter of Freedom and Rights has gone too far – if that is possible. The Charters seems to have granted us too many rights since it seems nothing gets done yet anything is allowed. One person’s rights trumps another’s.

Like some readers, my significantly compromised immune system means stricter isolation more than an average healthy person. Despite my double vaccination I must be careful and so largely remain in my home. Thank goodness (most of the time) for technology – allowing me to safely take part in various events.

Recently I attended a number of meetings and social/work meetings via zoom and have realized how divisive the vaccine and mask issues have filtered into our world. It seems that all walks of life or groups are impacted even on the social level. Musical groups, sports teams, even smaller, closer organizations such as Rotary, Lions, Free Masons … are finding themselves locked in debate over how to move forward with operations.

I am hoping we can all start to step back from the anger edge and contemplate the dream and vision our veterans had when they gave up their lives so we could have a better, freer world.

Next week our nation will gather (in person or online) for Remembrance Day, and honour the sacrifice made by our forefathers. Seems to me it is a good time to seriously take more than a minute to contemplate our future – and how we get there.

I propose it may be time that because of the diminishing number of veterans still alive we increase the time contemplating their cause.

Perhaps Remembrance Day should become Remembrance Week. More time to think and honour those who gave the ultimate gift.

With no end to the pandemic in sight we need to stop our frenzy and work together. I do not have the answers to how to turn things around but I do know it starts with each of us individually making an effort.

So I’m hoping you will join me in trying to rekindle my patience for others, my kindness towards others, and my desire to help make this a better world than I have been of late.

We owe it to our friends and families, we owe it to ourselves and we certainly owe it to our veterans.

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Charlie Hodge is a best-selling author, writer, a current Kelowna City Councillor, and a Director on the Regional District of the Central Okanagan Board. He spent more than 25 years as a full-time newspaper journalist and has a diverse background in public relations, promotions, personal coaching, and strategic planning. A former managing editor, assistant editor, sports editor, entertainment editor, journalist, and photographer, Hodge also co-hosted a variety of radio talk shows and still writes a regular weekly newspaper column titled Hodge Podge, which he has crafted now for 41 years. His biography on Howie Meeker, titled Golly Gee It’s Me is a Canadian bestseller and his second book, Stop It There, Back It Up – 50 Years of the NHL garnered lots of attention from media and hockey fans alike. Charlie is currently working on a third hockey book, as well as a contracted historical/fiction novel. His creative promotional skills and strategic planning have been utilized for many years in the Canadian music industry, provincial, national, and international environmental fields, and municipal, provincial, and federal politics. Charlie is a skilled facilitator, a dynamic motivational speaker, and effective personal coach. His hobbies include gardening, canoeing, playing pool, and writing music. Charlie shares his Okanagan home with wife Teresa and five spoiled cats.


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