John Henry Foster Babcock, born on a farm near Kingston, Ontario, on July 23, 1900, the last known Canadian veteran of World War I, died Thursday.
His death marks the last remaining link to those 650,000 Canadian men and women who served in Canada's armed forces between 1914 to 1918 in World War I as Canada moved from colony to nationhood in the years following confederation in 1867. When I heard of Mr. Babcock's death, I immediately thought of the old Grade 10 history textbook used in Ontario schools at least, 'From Colony to Nation.'
When World War I started, Canada had a population of eight million people, and 67,000 of our citizens were killed during the conflict and 173,000 were wounded.
In a statement following the news of Mr. Babcock's death, Stephen Harper, the prime minister said: “They paid dearly for the freedom that we and our children enjoy every day. Now they are all gone. However, their voices and stories live on. They live on in our commitment to never forget, to cherish their values they fought for and to remember their sacrifices.”
So many of us have a connection to World War I, and coming from the small town of Chapleau, Ontario, many of my friends had a family member who served.
In my own family, my grandfather, Harry Morris, served in the Canadian forces and his brother, 2/Lt. Mansel J Morris of 43 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps, was killed and is buried in the Aire Communal Cemetery in France.
Two of my grandmother's (Lil (Mulligan) Morris) brothers Charles Mulligan and Griffin Mulligan also served in the Canadian Forces in World War I.
My father, Flying Officer James E. Morris, of the Royal Canadian Air Force was killed on active service in World war II. He is buried in Ripon Cemetery, Yorkshire, England.
Although Mr. Babcock was the last known living Canadian veteran of World War I, we shall remember all of them who served this nation, Let us never forget as the prime minister said, they paid dearly for the freedom we enjoy today.
May John Babcock now rest in peace.
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