Opinion: Remembering the sacrifice of animals that had no choice but to go to war


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Recently, in Calgary, a small but imposing bronze canine statue was unveiled affirming the police canines who’ve died in the line of responsibility; it additionally serves as a reminder of how we’re protected by canine members of the metropolis’s police power. This statue has joined others round the world that acknowledge and honour the animals who’ve served and proceed to serve.


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Statues devoted to animals embody Balto, the canine who valiantly aided sick individuals in Nome, Alaska; Laika, the first canine in area; Wojtek, the bear who realized to carry provides and was adopted by Polish troopers; and Poppy, a warhorse whose head is bowed down in sorrow, her toes tangled in barbed wire.

In 2004, a spectacular Animals in War memorial, inscribed with the phrases “They Had No Choice,” grew to become a actuality in London, England; and in 2012, a sculpture engraved with comparable sentiments was unveiled in Confederation Park, Ottawa. It is situated subsequent to the South African War Memorial, which acknowledges Canada’s provide of 50,000 horses to mounted troops.

Erected June 2001, additionally in Confederation Park, the National Aboriginal Veterans’ Monument is a shocking creation that includes animal figures that act as spirit guides — a wolf, a buffalo, an elk and a bear — every with a singular high quality.


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In an article dated January 2020, entitled: “Coming soon: India’s first war memorial for animals,” an officer feedback: “It will be a befitting token of remembrance and a mark of respect and gratitude … Several western nations have memorials dedicated to animals.”

“You rode into battle barebacked and saddled

You took the wound in your facet

You pulled the sleds and also you pulled the wagons

You gave ‘em somewhere to hide”

Willie Nelson/Sonny Throckmorton, Ride Me Back Home , released 2019.

Among the myriad animals recruited into arenas of war, the most familiar and recurring image is that of the horse; yet it is equally important to remember other conscripted animals, including elephants, camels, oxen, mules, donkeys, countless pigeons, cats and dogs, a memorable goat named Sergeant Billy and bomb-sniffing rats.


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References abound of soldiers declaring some animals as mascots and also developing attachments to creatures who provided solace and immeasurable comfort. Jilly Cooper’s e book Animals in War devotes an entire chapter to the advantages realized by each the troopers and the animals they cherished. The poignant phrases in the poem A Soldier’s Kiss by Henry Chappell outline the sentiment in the portray titled Goodbye, Old Man.

“I believe that every soldier who has anything to do with horse or mule has come to love them for what they are and the grand work they have done and are doing in and out of the death zones.”

British officer Capt. Sidney Galtrey, autumn 1918.

The 2018 problem of Canadian Cattlemen mentions the “colossal contribution horses made to the war effort.” Jed Duncan, a son of Scottish immigrants who homesteaded in what would grow to be the rail line by means of Nanton, Alta., raised livestock together with a herd of 20 Percheron broodmares, some of whom can be shipped to the battlefields. In 1910, Jed attended the Ontario Veterinary College and when war broke out he was amongst the veterinary surgeons dispatched to Europe. In an emotional coincidence, Jed acknowledged the -D- model on a Percheron mare who was being handled in a front-line hospital. Tragically, Jed and his mare have been each killed by artillery, “one sad component of Nanton’s contribution to war.”

As crimson poppies start to emerge evoking remembrances for these misplaced or injured in battle, these notable flowers serve to reinforce our dedication to remembering all who fought and died for our freedom. Purple poppies acknowledge the contribution of animals who serve. The color purple displays an abundance of meanings together with knowledge, dignity, and devotion — a befitting tribute with which to salute and bear in mind the sacrifice of animals who show such stalwart braveness.

Carol Tracey is an advocate/activist for animal welfare and the setting.



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