A parade wouldn’t be a parade without speeches
Just prior to the start of the Commissioning Parade, a short but very special ceremony took place at the Senior Staff Mess. Chief of Defence Staff, General Tom Lawson made it official; it was now Major-General Al Meinzinger.
As this was his last graduation as Commandant, it was very evident that the brand new Major General was particularly honoured / proud to share this special moment with the soon to be newly minted Canadian Armed Forces officers.
“I have looked into each of your eyes, and I have seen and felt the pride, the fire and the iron-will to succeed.
The highly popular soon to be departing RMCC Commandant speaking in a loud and clear voice added, “The journey of a cadet at RMCC is one that I know very well. On many days over the last two years, you made me feel like a cadet once again as I lived vicariously through the myriad of challenges you faced, freelancing occasionally in the odd activity or two.”
The soon to be Deputy Commander of the RCAF added, “Though those moments were memorable and at times painful and humbling, the most rewarding aspect truly of being the Commandant of this treasured national institution is being inspired daily by you…the future leadership of the CAF, the cadets of the Royal Military College of Canada.”
The CDS combined nostalgia and reality in an inspiring manner. Looking out towards the Parade Square, it was clear that they were hanging on to every word. Most of them anyways.
This was the 15th time that he has taken part in the RMC graduation ceremony. Four times as a cadet in the 1970’s, several times as a professor in the 1980’s, several more as a proud father of a couple of officer cadets – Ben and Jack in the 2000s.
Two more as the Commandant, and twice as a proud CDS.
This was to be his last one while still serving in uniform. Although there has been no date set, as yet, for the official CDS handover, if this writer were a betting man – he would bet that it will be done by the end of June or at the latest in early July. (BTW, all my team picks in the NHL play-offs were eliminated in the first round!) A good reason why I don’t bet for $$$. Bragging rights is as far as I go
He was speaking mainly to the soon to be 2LTs on parade as though it was his first day on the job; the always upbeat 1979 former RMC Cadet Wing Commander passed on more than a few words of wisdom.
“Please let me give you a piece of advice: don’t over-think it. You’re fit and well-educated; the College staff has seen to that.”
He went on to add. “Your military and faculty mentors are proud of what you have become. Draw your confidence from that. As for what kind of leader you should be, how you should present yourself, don’t over-think that either.”
The former CF 18 fighter pilot made some further points that will serve these young entry level leaders just fine.
“The same things that have worked for you here will work for you when you are given your own companies, flights and sections. Listen, imagine you were having a conversation with a friend and asked him to describe his boss. He tells you four things about that boss:…
• …that she is interested in the welfare of her subordinates; that she is dedicated to the unit; that she has a good sense of humour; and that she makes timely decisions.”
He wrapped-up with this reality. “The tougher stuff – developing a vision, driving a change agenda, overseeing business planning – nobody will expect these things of you too soon.”