A show of support for Canada’s troops

The yellow ribbon symbol is meant to show a commitment to the Canadian Forces.

The display at a store till a few days ago caught my attention. A small basket had yellow lapel pins in the design of a ribbon with the words, Support Our Troops.

I’ve seen the same symbol, in the form of a magnetic Support Our Troops ribbon, affixed to the rear of cars and trucks.

The symbol is meant to show a commitment to the Canadian Forces.

Canada’s military operates with a budget of roughly $20.1 billion. There are 68,250 active members and 119,000 in reserves. At present, around 700 are deployed.

Some believe our military is underfunded and too small to meet Canada’s needs. Others have raised questions about the changing role of Canada’s military presence.

For some Canadians, support for the military is important and yellow ribbons are a way of showing that support.

In the days leading up to Remembrance Day on Nov. 11, it is likely the Support Our Troops message will appear more often.

Stickers, pins and clothing with the logo can be purchased online at supportourtroops.ca, through the Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services. This agency is under the administration of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces.

A lapel pin costs $2.99 and a magnetic sticker is just $3.49. It’s a small price to pay.

It’s easy to purchase and wear a pin, or to put a sticker on the rear of a vehicle, but how much can such a gesture accomplish?

During both world wars, supporting Canada’s troops took on a different meaning.

Canadians at home planted victory gardens and contributed to scrap metal drives and other initiatives to help with the war effort.

These initiatives were in addition to the food and fuel rationing which had been imposed to ensure supplies were available for those in the military.

And far beyond these measures, Canadians served.

Around 620,000 Canadians served during World War I. Of these, 67,000 were killed in action and another 250,000 were wounded. During World War II, roughly 1.1 million served. Of these, 45,000 died in action and another 54,000 were wounded.

Some of those names are listed on the cenotaph in Memorial Park.

Times are different now and comparisons with World War II fall flat. At its peak, the Nazi forces had 18 million members. Today, the forces of ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, are estimated at between 10,000 and 20,000 members.

For a better comparison, look back roughly 100 years to World War I. Then, as now, there was one global superpower (the United Kingdom then; the United States today.) Then, as now, there was volatility in smaller nations, with tensions ready to erupt.

The location has changed from the Balkan States in Europe to places like Ukraine, North Korea and a number of Middle East countries.

The escalation which led to the start of World War I could easily replay today, and the results would be significant, especially with today’s increasingly sophisticated weapons.

Tensions at the end of that war created conditions which led to the start of World War II, less than two decades later.

The two world wars also were catalysts in the rise of communism and the resulting Cold War between the United States and the former Soviet Union.

This is a part of our history none would want to see repeated.

Ribbons are fine as a show of support, but a better way to support our troops is to work for peace, to find solutions so another global war does not occur.

John Arendt is the editor of the Summerland Review.