On June 5th, I attended the 2nd Annual C.A.V. (Canadian Army Veterans) Motorcycle Unit D-Day invasion at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa. Organized by the 1st C.A.V. Paardeburg Unit, and presided by National President and Co-founder Paul “Trapper” Cane, it was attended by C.A.V. members and supporters from across Ontario and Quebec. Padre Don (Reverend Don R. Chisholm, CD) addressed the somber gathering as did Major General Lewis MacKenzie (Ret’d), founder of the C.A.V.’s Old Guard.
What’s so striking about this group? Not only have they served our country, they are all motorcycle enthusiasts. And they are continuing to serve through direct support of local, national and international charities. The courage, strength and positive energy exuded by this group of individuals is palpable. It’s completely humbling and an honour to stand in their midst.
From simple beginnings in a Kingston parking lot in 2003, the C.A.V. has grown to 65 units comprised of 50 to 150 members each. Their motto: Strength and Honour; their mission statement “Ride, have fun, help others.” They are distinguishable by their red shirts, black vests symbolizing mourning for those who have fallen and a large square crest portraying a mounted soldier on a motorcycle, The C.A.V. prominent across the top, Canadian Army Veteran in block letters at the bottom.
These men and women have fought for the rights and freedoms we all enjoy. They have seen unspeakable atrocities. They have had to advance under enemy fire. They have been called to act far beyond their comfort zone and challenge their own physical, emotional and mental safety envelope.
Now they spend their time helping returning soldiers integrate back into society, comforting the families of those who do not return, participating in countless charity rides across the country – focused on being of service to those in need around the world.
These men and women are all heroes. Heroes on motorcycles with “hearts as big as mountains.” according to National President Trapper. Trapper responded immediately when I asked how best to show our support.
- Ride with them. Find a chance – they will welcome you.
- Wear red. Red Shirt Fridays originated a few years ago to show support for those who have served – past and present.
- Attend repatriation ceremonies, processions.
- Serve everyone. Do not judge.
- Get out and Ride. As long as you are on a motorcycle, good will come of it.
As I stood there listening, I gazed around the crowd, wondering what thoughts were going through the minds of the individuals gathered there. Behind them, scarlet poppies waved gently in the breeze on the grassy hill. Beyond that, the flag waved proudly from the top of the Peace Tower.
Sixty-seven years ago, hundreds of thousands of courageous men and women came together to change the course of history. We still have heroes amongst us. They are changing the course of history too – and the weapons they are using are kindness, compassion and peace. Let’s make sure they know how much their contribution is appreciated.