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A war veteran speaks out.

Combined within the five medals and one set of airborne wings upon my chest is my life story.

On a day of such prominence for soldiers and veterans, a day similar to Saint Crispin's Day in Shakespeare's Henry V, it is no wonder the Franck Gervaises of the world come out in search of recognition not earned. (Editor's note: Franck Gervais was charged with impersonating a soldier as a result of a television interview he gave to the CBC on Remembrance Day.)

The problem being that Franck Gervais and others like him who attempt to steal the hard-earned valour of the men and women who serve their country is that they have no idea what it entails to earn the right to wear those pieces of cloth and metal.

What imposters, posers, phonies and frauds fail to realize is that valour cannot be stolen. Honour cannot be faked. The brotherhood, the blood and the sacrifice that is woven into each pretty piece of coloured cloth upon the chests of our soldiers, sailors, air men and women is real and cannot be cheapened by their lies.

Within my own collection of decorations is a story not as glorious as the ones being told by those who were not there. Sleep deprivation, hours upon days of boredom. Laying in the snow for days to track a fake enemy while in training. Carrying a 95-pound rucksack through the foothills of the Rockies. Training to be faster and better than any enemy my country could pit me against. Months and years away from families. Injuries and scars, nightmares and anxiety. The pain of burying the best, the bravest and most loyal of your friends is a feeling you don't want, Franck. Trust me.

Forged within the medals dangling from the ribbon are 14 years of memories, and 14 years of living with a pack of sheepdogs keeping the wolves at bay, away from Canada's door.

You can pretend to be us. We know you are not. We know who we are and what we have done. You cannot take it away from us, we won't let you; not the honour nor the pain. It is ours. We earned it. For you.

Sgt. (ret'd) Jeffrey Gravel, CD

Windsor, ON

Caption: Franck Gervais is facing charges for allegedly impersonating a decorated military officer during a television interview with CBC during Remembrance Day ceremonies. (CBC)


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Title Annotation:POSTED IN: Letters to the editor
Author:Gravel, Jeffrey
Publication:Esprit de Corps
Article Type:Letter to the editor
Date:Jan 1, 2015
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