Last summer Higgie came home with two red golf shirts embroidered with his company's insignia and a magnetic hope ribbon to put on our car. It was camo green and had a red dot in the centre of the loop which said 'Support Red Shirt Friday'. I asked him what it was about and he told me his company wanted their employees to show support for our troops by wearing red shirts. Then I heard Don Cherry talking about the Red Shirt Campaign and learned it was a nation-wide movement. Shortly thereafter I observed staff at the Hospital for Sick Children where I conduct my Friday meeting wearing red scrubs or staff shirts. I spotted a trend! I went out and bought some red shirts. Now I wear one every Friday.
This morning on the news I watched HMCS Charlottetown sailing out of Halifax harbour on her way to Libya to join a flotilla of international troops. I found myself humming the old tune "Bless 'em all, bless 'em all, the long and the short and the tall..." Is it a show of force of concerned nations? Is it an act of aggression? Or is it, as I know they have been trained to believe, our troops mobilising to ensure 'the freedom of perfect strangers', to quote a line from a speech I once hear my brother give. All I know is, I'll be wearing a red shirt for a lot longer.
As mentioned elsewhere on this blog, my brother spent 44 in the Canadian armed forces and would still be there if he hadn't been forced to retire at age 60. He now commands the cadet corp of his regiment, serving as an excellent role model of dedication to his young troops. His daughter and her husband are both naval commanders and have both served overseas in Bosnia, Afghanistan and on the high seas combatting international piracy. I have many other cousins who have also served and some who still do. My father and their father instilled in all of us a deep sense of pride in serving our country. We are a nation of peacekeepers. We have never gone to war as an act of aggression or to impose our ideology on other nations. There was a time when war seemed to be fought for ideals. Now it appears to be about natural resources - or more accurately, money. Perhaps it t'was ever thus. Whatever the cause, there are young lives at stake who have made a selfless act in choosing to serve. Let's show our support. Let's wear red shirts on Fridays.