Was it stolen valour?

Unknown to historians, Charles Loewen addressed the logistical challenge of landing an army in wartime France.

Early in 1943, the military planners in London, England, coped with the ebb and flow of the Second World War, but they did so secretly. Squirrelled away in his tiny office at the British War Office, an experienced Canadian-born artillery officer grappled with a logistics problem about an upcoming military operation. But the stress proved overwhelming for hm. He couldn’t sleep. He couldn’t focus. To switch his mind off before bed, he tried reading detective stories. Then, he tried something completely different.

“I set up a fly-tying table,” Charles Falkland Loewen wrote in his memoirs, “and before going to bed sat down to tie a fly or two. I found that this absorbed one’s complete attention … and really unbuttoned my mind from current problems.”

Loss of innocence

Cpl. Nathan Cirillo's casket in the streets of Hamilton, Ontario, on the day of his funeral.
Cpl. Nathan Cirillo’s casket in the streets of Hamilton, Ontario, on the day of his funeral.

Politicians, police and just plain people have offered a lot of captions to the events in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu and Ottawa over the past week. The Prime Minister called the killings of Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent and Corporal Nathan Cirillo an attack on Canada’s democracy. Law enforcement officials referred to the murders as “lone-wolf terrorism.” And friends of mine have said it was an assault on this country’s innocence. A paramedic who joined those watching Cpl. Cirillo’s body pass on Hwy 401 last Friday summed it up:

“I never expected to be standing here for a Canadian soldier killed on our own soil,” Roger Litwiller told the Toronto Star.

Views from a bridge

Pete Fisher began photographing along the Highway of Heroes, before it official earned that title.
Pete Fisher began photographing along the Highway of Heroes, before it officially earned that title.

It was a Saturday in the spring of 2002. A photographer, who been born and raised and in fact had worked most of his professional life for newspapers in and around Cobourg, Ont., got a call from his father. Pete Fisher’s dad told him to keep an eye out for something happening on Highway 401. Four Canadian soldiers’ bodies had just arrived home from Afghanistan and it looked as if there would be a procession along the highway between CFB Trenton and Toronto, where the bodies would officially be released to the families.

“I didn’t know the soldiers’ names,” Fisher wrote later.