Teachings from a Soldier

100th Anniversary remembrance of Vimy Ridge

June 22, 2017

Recently, I had the privilege to attend a special presentation of the 100th Anniversary of Vimy Ridge exhibit at the National War Museum. Prior to attending the exhibit we were treated to a speech by Master Corporal Stuart Dobie. Dobie was sponsored by Scotia Wealth to attend the ceremonies commemorating the 100th Anniversary of Vimy Ridge in France earlier this year.

Master Corporal Dobie recounted his visit: he detailed the many gravesites and battle fields thathe attended and studied. His moving speech captivated the audience and transported us from our existing worries and life to the life of a soldier during world conflicts. It was moving and emotional to say the very least.

Dobie had a great ability to express the enormity of the conflict and obvious terror experienced by those fighting. He explained how our Canadian boys did their jobs as soldiers. Some of the key points that I took from Master Corporal Dobie’s speech include:

  1. Fear is human. Yet the soldiers learned to put fear aside and to fall back on their training. Fear could not stop them from doing their job.
  2. Do your job. When in the trenches each soldier used concept of doing their job as a way working past their fear.
  3. Train. Our soldiers were trained well and often. They would fall back on their training to allow them move forward and do their job.
  4. Use the tools you have. Dobie mentioned that a soldier has to be better than his or her kit. He cited an example of how infantrymen were challenged time and again by jammed Ross rifles due to the muddy conditions of the fields of France. However, soldiers dealt with this adversity and moved on.
  5. Plan, plan, plan. In order to do something amazing in the face of extreme adversity it takes a plan. In Normandy, during the D-Day landings, each and every soldier was fully briefed on the mission. They all knew what the initiative was so if they found themselves without a commanding officer, or detached from their unit, they knew what their job was and they were able to adapt to adversity and carry it out.

While most of us are safe and well removed from the horrors that our soldiers faced 100 years ago, as well as today, we can still learn some very valuable lessons from those soldiers.

I am so thankful for their service and their lessons.