“Perhaps this would help Canadians understand how we continue to serve them, even long after we have retired the uniform”
Article by 17169 Stephen Kalyta
I had the privilege recently to attend a joint Canadian-Dutch sponsored Trade event in Ottawa. The Dutch have a soft spot for us Canadians. Their fond sentiment was earned through the 1st Canadian Army’s significant sacrifice in liberating the Netherlands from the Nazi ensnarement at the close of WWII.
The event was co-chaired by the Dutch Prime Minister and the Canadian Ambassador, to commemorate the success of CETA, the Canadian European Trade Agreement. I was there to promote our technology that converts waste plastic to diesel. I thought that it would be appropriate to wear my No. 6’s, show off my military heritage and distinguish myself from the crowd. Interestingly, not a single Canadian or Dutch participant at the CETA conference paid any heed to my CMR crest.
At the meeting’s close, I climbed the stairs of Chateau Laurier to the main lobby. Within seconds I was “red-dotted” by 3 keen RMC cadets wearing DEU’s and their No.5’s. It seems they were in Ottawa for a school-sponsored event and I was at an event trying to promote our College.
All 3 beamed as I approached them and as is my general habit, I bored them with a litany of questions including how they were enjoying life at the College. Had I been well-heeled in a navy blue Sears suit instead of my 6’s, my immediate recognition by the Cadets would not have occurred. Their loss, my gain.
As we parted ways I was left reflecting on this chance encounter. Perhaps the community of ex-Cadets is invisible, even to our own. Perhaps this explains the indifference I felt as a Veteran and ex-Cadet during my conference. The visceral connection we feel as an ex-Cadet community is diminished through the lens of public scrutiny because we are not visible to them, other than on Remembrance Day.
Imagine for a moment, given we are now over 20,000 ex-cadets if we all elected to wear our 6’s on the same day, across Canada. The public would see how we transitioned from military Captains to captains of industry. Perhaps this would help Canadians understand how we continue to serve them, even long after we have retired the uniform.