Breaking faith with those who died for freedom

LOUIS CUPPENS  –  Nov 4, 2018

The Remembrance period is upon us – how will you remember? Already, Legion members are busy distributing poppies, and Remembrance activities are taking place across Canada. At ceremonies across the country, we shall all hear the words from John McCrea’s “In Flanders Fields”.  One line has particular meaning for me: “If ye break faith with us who die, we shall not sleep, though poppies grow in Flanders fields”.  In my opinion, the politicians behind our defence and foreign policy have broken faith with those who died for freedom.

Several years ago, Preston Manning wrote an OPED entitled “Sleepless in Flanders fields”.  I will quote a few excerpts from it

“The problems lie deeper than the political policies that have starved the Canadian military of money, equipment and personnel”

The government spin doctors may call it prudence, the diplomatic among is may call it timidity, but men who placed their lives on the line for freedom’s sake would call it by a harsher name: cowardice in high places

As Manning concludes, “Will John McCrea and his companions continue to have their sleep disturbed, or will they finally rest in peace in Flanders fields?”

As I have written before, our military remains starved for funds to train with, for equipment to make them capable, and recruitment to attract those who believe in the cause of freedom.

  • Recall the lifetime-long Sea King replacement project; or the ill-fated fighter replacement project (draft tenders documents are only now out for review); or the lengthy replenishment ship replacement project.
  • Recall the pilot shortage that has existed for many years and continues today.
  • Recall our treatment of Veterans as we removed their life-long pensions; as we seemingly ignore complaints by veterans about the length of time to address disability concerns; or their complaints about the SISIP claw back.
  • Recall the shortage of mental health professionals to aid serving and released veterans.
  • Recall our new defence and security policy that took two years to build and the “no results thus far” outcome (but it has a catchy name).

Governments come and go but faith has been broken. Promises have been many, but delivering on these promises eludes those in political charge. Robert Service says it so well in one of his poems: “a promise made is a debt unpaid”

We remember – how will you remember?

LWF Cuppens
Lieutenant-General (retired)