The final parade

In a few days, the future leadership of our country will suit up for the last time at the Royal Canadian Air Cadet camp at Springbrook.

In a few days, the future leadership of our country will suit up for the last time at the Royal Canadian Air Cadet camp at Springbrook.

But it isn’t just a matter of rising early on that final parade morning.

For the youth who chose to spend part of their summer acquiring new skills, knowledge and life experience, the final parade at the camp is the culmination of their efforts throughout the training year.

Courses will have been completed, exams written and graded, and rehearsals held for the graduation parade held on the final day of summer camp.

But this year, it is the absolute final parade of cadets at Springbrook.

Many hours will have been spent putting the final touches on uniforms for the parade.

The spiffed-up columns of teenagers will gather — “form up” in military parlance — and then march to the parade square for the final inspection under the watchful eyes of trainers, parents and guests.

Salutes, inspections, handing out of awards and speeches will take place on the tarmac — weather permitting — of the former Canadian Forces Base Penhold.

After the final salute, reviewing parties will then leave the parade square, to be followed by the cadets and staff.

They will be led by a colour party that, like every other parade it since 1966, carry the colours of the nation and Cadet League.

The hundreds of final cadets to be trained in Central Alberta’s summer training facility will then march off the parade square into history.

Already we have heard how emotional a time this last summer for training has been for both cadets and staff. The young people return home and either head back to school or pursue whatever professions they happen to choose.

Some friendships continue for many years after involvement with cadets and summer camps.

Tonight, about 200 former camp staff members — including this writer — cadets and former members of the Canadian Forces will gather for a reunion.

Although the event is being held outside the official circle of Air Cadet operations, it is a commemoration of a long history of cadet activities at former CFB Penhold, as it is affectionately remembered.

The gathering will be a military reunion of sorts since those who were involved as instructors were employed through a reserve branch of the Department of National Defence.

Thousands of young people have taken part in cadet activities here since 1966.

Some go on to careers with the Canadian Forces, although this is not compulsory.

Others — including members of my family as three siblings also went through the Air Cadet movement — will tell you it is a good source of discipline, responsibility and leadership, qualities that would well serve anyone in life.

The Cadet Program is for Canadians aged 12 to 18. They participate in a variety of fun, challenging and rewarding activities while learning about the sea, army and air activities of the Canadian Forces.

What’s wrong with rising early, making up your bunk — hospital style — polishing shoes, ironing your uniform (honestly, some of this stuff gets done the night before) and then forming up and marching to mess (breakfast) before 7 a.m.?

Isn’t that more productive than sleeping in after an all-night session of computer games?

Tonight I will reunite with former camp comrades I have not seen in 38 years.

Not all of our old friends will attend. Most of our former superior officers from those days are now gone.

Some of them earned the highest military honours in conflicts of the past and later continued their involvement with the betterment of the nation’s youth.

Working with those veterans was just normal to us at the time, but they were the country’s real heroes, the ones who fought for the freedoms we enjoy today.

After our camp involvement was done, we went our separate ways, into may professions, some to far-flung corners of the globe.

And after many years away from anything involving cadets, we will gather once again, not to herald ourselves, but to celebrate an organization dedicated to the betterment of our nation’s youth.

David Nagy is a former Advocate editor.

Just Posted

Red Deerians shop for exotic plants at spring plant sale

Exotic plants are popular at the Red Deer & District Garden Club’s… Continue reading

Central Albertans come together to end MS

Red Deer’s Bre Fitzpatrick has MS. The medication the 34-year-old is on… Continue reading

Wildfire crews watching for dangerous wind shift in High Level, Alta.

HIGH LEVEL, Alta. — Crews battling an enormous wildfire just outside the… Continue reading

New poll suggests one-third don’t want politicians to wear religious symbols

OTTAWA — While most Canadians firmly back the Charter of Rights and… Continue reading

Red Deer stamp-collecting event a hit, local club expected to start in fall

Postage stamp-loving Red Deerians can expect to have a place to gather… Continue reading

WATCH: Cars, airplanes, motorcyles on display at Red Deer Airport

Cars, motorcycle and airplane enthusiasts united at the Red Deer Airport Sunday… Continue reading

Cast your votes for the Best of Red Deer

Nominations for the Best of Red Deer Readers’ Choice Awards are officially… Continue reading

Bid to get D-Day beaches added to list of UN World Heritage Sites in limbo

OTTAWA — The beaches of Normandy, where the Allies stormed ashore to… Continue reading

Could this 20-year-old Montreal polyglot be Canada’s most multilingual student?

MONTREAL — Georges Awaad answers the phone with a polite “Hello,” but… Continue reading

Feds lay out proposed new rules for voice, video recorders in locomotives

OTTAWA — The federal Liberals have laid out their proposal for rules… Continue reading

Trump’s trophy day of sumo, golf and cheeseburgers in Japan

TOKYO — President Donald Trump presented a special U.S.-made trophy to the… Continue reading

Two dead, one seriously injured, following explosion in Calgary home’s garage

CALGARY — Police in Calgary say they believe a house fire where… Continue reading

Raptors fans spill onto the streets ahead of potentially historic game

Cars honked, exhilarated fans chanted and long lines formed outside bars and… Continue reading

Most Read