My father lost his leg in WW2. He was broken in ranks for fighting a Leutenent over the men’s rations. He was broken to a Corporal. He was told to find 2 men to go with him, and go out to see what the Germans were doing and where they were. He picked 2 men to go with him. They came to a field that was open with only stukes of grain in them. They were the perfect place for snipers to wait.
He was a man that could not have lived with himself if he gave an order that sent a man to his death, so he crossed the field himself (Harper is not such a man). He did not get across the field before he was shot in both legs by 2 snipers at either end of the field. I remember as a young boy seeing the leg that they saved. He had 6 wounds in the leg they saved (3 entry and 3 exit wounds). Thankfully none of the bullets had hit his bones. He was not so lucky with his other leg, the bullet hit a bone, and he would end up in Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto for 1 1/2 years trying to save his leg, but he got gangrene in the leg and they had to remove the leg of this one time athlete. I could cry if I thought of the decision he had to make that day, being confronted with the choice of his leg, or his life. I watched him with the rest of his life, living with his choice, angry of how the government treated the vets.
Perhaps my thoughts are also muddied by my anger that I had to grow up very young to help him live with the consequence of that day, us living on a farm, and me having to take on what felt like a man’s load when I was 10. I helped at the barn lambing at sometimes 3 in the morning.
When I was about 18 and the Americans were sending men off the War in Vietnam, my dad called me into his room and said ” I am not sure if Canada is going to get involved in America’s war, but if we do I don’t want you to go, I don’t want a son of mine to lose a leg, or to get killed fighting a rich man’s war”.
When the Gulf War started and my son war about 18, I pulled him aside and told him the very same thing.
I do not want to see any more wars. I don’t want to see the Super Rich make any more money while men, like my father, with a whole life ahead of him has his life altered in a way that should not happen to anyone.