This post is about a courageous man who fought in a war, many years removed from our present peaceful time, and what someone did to recognize his service to his country.
Being known as a peaceful nation, today we do not place our soldiers in their rightful elevated status in society. We tend to just take them for granted. However, by this simple little acknowledgment of one man’s dedication to the war effort, this attitude may just be a tiny step in the correct direction!
If you look at the back right-hand side of a Canadian $10 bill (see above), you will see an old veteran standing at attention near the Ottawa War Memorial. His name is Robert Metcalfe and he died last month [circa December, 2007] at the age of 90.
That Metcalfe managed to live to that age is rather remarkable, given what happened in the Second World War. Born in England, he was one of the 400,000 members of the British Expeditionary Force sent to the mainland of Europe where they found themselves facing the new German warfare technique – the Blitzkrieg. He was treating a wounded comrade when he was hit in the legs by shrapnel.
En route to hospital, the ambulance in which Metcalfe was riding came under fire from a German tank, which then miraculously ceased fire. He was evacuated from Dunkirk on HMS Grenade, two of whose sister ships in the same convoy were sunk.
When he recovered, Metcalfe was sent to Allied campaigns in North Africa and Italy. En route, his ship was chased by the German battleship, Bismarck. In North Africa, he served under General Montgomery against the Desert Fox, Field Marshall Erwin Rommel.
Sent into the Italian campaign, Metcalfe met his future wife, a lieutenant and physiotherapist in a Canadian hospital. They were married in the morning by the mayor of the Italian town, and again in the afternoon by a British padre. After the war, they settled in Chatham, Ontario, where he went into politics and became the warden (chairman) of the county. On his retirement, he and his wife moved to Ottawa, where, at the age of 80, he wrote a book about his experiences.
One day – out of the blue – Metcalfe received a call from a government official asking him to go downtown for a photo op. He wasn’t told what the photo was for or why they chose him. “He had no idea he would be on the bill,” his daughter said.
And now you know the story of the old veteran on the $10 bill.
This quote came from the story of Robert Metcalfe and I hope it put a little smile on your face, even for just a single minute in your life!
Robert Metcalfe and the many others out there, we salute you!