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17160 Stephen Kalyta: A Chance Encounter Sheds Light on Public Perception

“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.

5 Comments

  • Phil Rushworth

    November 13, 2018 at 12:33 pm

    Stephen,
    Great story and great idea! I had planned to march in the parade at CMR this year. I don’t have my number 6 anymore, but I had a plan. I would size up cadets when I arrived at the college and borrow/lease (for beer) a number 6. I knew based on our shared heritage that my plan was infallible.
    During execution I was chatting with a similarly sized OCdt and I popped the question.
    “Can I borrow your number 6?”
    “What’s a number 6? We have 4’s, 5’s and scarlets, which I don’t have yet.”
    “The blue jacket with the crest, grey pants? You don’t have those anymore?”
    “No, sir.”
    “Okay, what’s your college number?”
    And on we went. I asked a couple more cadets just in case I had happened upon a clever, or brainless, cadet. But the answer remained the same. My plan was ruined.
    But I still love your idea. I am sure they can be made somewhere!
    Cheers,
    Phil Rushworth
    18746

  • Layne Larsen

    November 13, 2018 at 5:01 pm

    I don’t believe #6 became part of the kit until post WW II. As I recall,
    the recreational dress in the 1920s was a scarlet blazer with white trousers, but
    when this started and when it ended, only one of the college historians could
    provide a trustworthy date.
    I don’t know when they stopped issuing #6, but it might have been during the
    defence cutbacks in the mid-1990s. I know a couple of classes flirted with the
    idea of trying to fund the return of the blazer and flannels, but the cost was
    just prohibitive. Our class (62) settled with handing graduates an ex-cadet tie
    instead.

  • 11401 Jim Peverley

    November 14, 2018 at 1:29 pm

    Navy Blazer and grey flannels remain available at most reputable clothing stores across Canada, add an ex cadet crest available from our kit shop and an ex-cadet tie and voila the ex-cadet uniform. I even managed to get a perfectly suitable blue blazer for only $49.00 from a Hilfiger Outlet store. P.S. wearing #6s would not necessarily be appropriate as the crest was different for cadets than for ex-cadets/members of the RMC Clubs of Canada.

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