When my London-born son-in-law hears or reads something really impressive or heart breaking or touching, he voices or writes the word, “Respect”. I think it’s a nice response. If he says it to me, simply, and without explanation or embellishment, I feel that…respect.
I’ve noticed in my world, the world of ‘EDUCATION’ that there is a loss of respect these days. Readers, don’t jump on my perceptions…it’s just what it is…my perceptions. I find students are often lacking respect for teachers. I find that professionals are losing respect, in their words and actions, for their peers. I find that people in positions of authority are disrespectful to people ‘beneath’ them. I’m wondering what is going on?
Social media offers us a plethora of disrespectful ‘threads’ day in and day out. We have, as a people, stopped listening to one another. Brief blasts of tweets or posts or images, leave conversations dangling, sometimes making us shiver with their hatred, negativity and stone-walling sensibility.
Recently, I had the opportunity to engage conversation with and learn about one soldier. I had intended to add his photograph to the bottom of a post about my great-grandfather John Moors. Master Corporal Joe Green was the person who took on the task of cleaning my great grandfather’s Memorial Cross, a sterling silver cross that would have been presented to my great grandmother Mary Eleanor Haddow 100 years ago and another to his mother, Grace Rebecca Porter, as a result of John’s death during a German bombing raid in Etaples, France. He had been lying in a hospital tent in Canadian General Hospital #51…a hospital situated with some proximity to a railway line.
Often times a person still hears negative comments about the military. There are wide-sweeping generalities made about peace and war and defense and aggression. “They shouldn’t have been over there in the first place!” Oh…to be ye, who judge. Oh, to be ye, who remain safe in your comfortable beds, with your comfortable thoughts, with your perfect opinions of other people, other countries, other politics because having been given the power, you would done everything differently!
I’ve been faulted for ‘living in the past’. But I don’t. See! I live here. I live now. But, I am absolutely NOT going to lose ties with our common past. I am always going to engage the touch stones of history, in order to do better. I am always going to remember.
Maybe it was the fact that I grew up in a military family during the Cold War years…during peace time…that I grew up with respect.
I remember attending high school in Montana. The MIA were still returning home, some of them, after the war in Vietnam. In 1969, the students were participating in fundraisers and wearing bracelets to bring their men home. Many, as my readers know, were never to return.
I picked up the Memorial Cross for John Moors and drove home. The roads were thick with deep snow, but I felt like I was floating. I was so elated to be driving home in 2018 with a 1918 Memorial Cross as my cargo.
I wrote the name Joe Green into my google search. This is what I found…article written by Cassie Riabko titled After the tour: Canadian soldiers reintegrating into society. Among the profiles, I learned about Joe. He made the correction with me, over electronic mail, that he had done two tours, not three, as noted in the article. He had not read the profile until I pointed it out to him through mail.
Master Corporal Joe Green first joined the Canadian Military in 2002, serving two tours in 2006 and one in 2008. His primary role was defensive operations, working in dangerous environments with firefights and ambushes occurring frequently. Most of his negative experiences came from his tours in 2006. They have been connected to his difficulties with integrating back into the civilian way of life.
The main memory that sticks out to Green was back in 2006 when his platoon was called out for a mission to help the American Special Forces Forward Operating Base. He had to stay back while his platoon went to aid as support. That night, none of the soldiers from his platoon came back to base, they were all in the hospital and one, Private Rob Costall, was killed in action. From then on the tour accelerated for him.
In 2008, Green began his integration process, starting a job in the civilian work force. “From going from carrying a weapon 24 hours a day to sitting at a computer, it takes some adjusting,” says Green.
It wasn’t until roughly 2010 where the thoughts and experiences from overseas started to have a major impact on his everyday life. “I started being less involved in the military, I started drinking heavily — not on a daily level — but when I would I would get extremely upset,” says Green.
With his job, he would have to drive in the city often. “There would be a chain reaction of thoughts that would lead back to something that happened on tour. I would dwell on it and I would be driving and I would come back to reality hours later in some random location in the city,” says Green.
He remembers the woman on the phone telling him to leave it to the professionals to diagnose his symptoms as he was comparing his situation to others he felt had worse experiences. Shortly after, his file was processed with Veteran Affairs and he had appointments booked at an operational stress injury clinic.
Green was diagnosed with PTSD and an anxiety disorder all related to his experiences overseas in Afghanistan. He was prescribed medication to aid in sleep and also for depression. He soon began to see results.
“I went through treatment in 2012, and I just ended last year. I went through the whole process of weekly sessions for about two years — from going weekly, I was going every second week to once a month to every three months,” says Green.
His process spanned from 2012-2016. In October 2016 he was officially discharged in at the operational stress injury clinic in Calgary. He weaned himself off the medication with approval from his doctor.
“The OSI clinic took really good care of me. I always recommend it to other members who are going through similar situations. However, if they are not ready to help themselves — they have to want to be better,” says Green.
He describes his experience as positive and very supportive from the organizations that helped him. “I don’t have anything negative to say about Veterans Affairs,” says Green. Currently he is serving as a Reservist with the Calgary Highlanders and he has taken courses to earn promotions within the Canadian Military.
Upon reading this profile, I made the decision to write a post that dealt with this issue of respect. While reading Joe’s profile, I found myself with tears. I took pause and remembered, in prayer, Joe’s peer, Private Rob Costall. Joe’s journey has inspired, in me, a new level or respect. This is the man who all of these decades later, held our family’s Memorial Cross in his hands and with precision and care, brought it to a beautiful sheen. I received his name through the centrally located Royal Canadian Legion Branch 275 in Forest Lawn. I had met a most amazing historian, there.
I received this Memorial Cross (there were two that were sent out, one to John’s wife Mary Eleanor Haddow Moors and the other to his mother, Grace Porter Moors…this is likely the one that I am now holding), kindly, from my father’s cousin JR Moors of Roseville, California. My Dad’s Uncle Bob had kept it safe and in his care and then left it to his son for safe keeping. The day it arrived by mail, I was overcome with emotion.
And finally, with Joe’s work…the refurbished Sterling silver cross.
As a part of our experience of respect, I think it is essential that we promise care of the objects that represent our soldiers and their service. I highly recommend that you solicit the help of Joe Green, locally, in order to tend to these treasures. Please contact me if you want his information and I will have him respond to your request.
I am blessed. I am grateful. I am filled with respect.
My cousin, James Perry, on my maternal side said it perfectly…
“A good polishing would bring back the shine of that silver too, IMHO tarnished medals are brought back to life with polishing, and are part of “Always remember, never Forget” and the sacrifice our families made to keep our world free from tyranny.”