I just finished (Sunday) the bio by Rick Hillier http://www.generalhillier.com/. I will be honest and admit I didn't really know much about him but that he had been the outspoken Chief of Defence for Canada.
I found the book very interesting and informative. Though at times when he spoke about military stuff it was way over my head! What I really liked reading was how he rose as a true leader without ever losing his Canadianism or losing sight on what was most important to him, his wife and children. Also, that he was able to do so much in his career and rise up through the ranks without ever losing his ethics. That alone is a huge accomplishment. I also found myself frustrated along with him while he dealt with Canadian bureaucracy and at times with other countries representatives. I cried when he talked about soldiers dying serving our country. He also talks about the emotional but amazing support from the Canadian people as each of our soldiers who have sacrificed their lives to save others have come home along the stretch of highway 401 renamed, "Highway of Hero's." I have written about my experience witnessing the "Highway of Hero's" http://conversationsatthepark.blogspot.com/2009/07/highway-of-heros.html and wondered at the time if there was any other country that did this. After reading General Hillier's book, I am even more proud and blessed to see this display of respect. From what I understand there is no other country in the world that honours their soldiers this way.
Through the book he tries very hard to explain the complexities of war. Also, his disdain of the UN and his frustration with NATO. For years the public has been fed the line that our military were only peacekeeping soldiers without being told just what that entails. Really, if you think about it, aren't all soldiers (in democratic countries) peacekeeping, isn't that their ultimate goal? Now to be honest I don't know if we (the public) have had the issues of Bosnia, Afghanistan, Serbia/Croatia etc. explained in a way that the general public could understand or if I was just too into my life to be overly concerned about others in far away countries. I remember back in 1999 a coworker and friend who was from Croatia tried to explain to me what was going on at that time with the fighting. And even then I don't think she totally understood it, so though it gave me a little bit of insight, I still really didn't get it. And many times I would say, "why can't everybody just get along?" Read Rick Hillier's book and you will see why that was never an option and just how fortunate we are!
Something I have come away with again and again is Education. If we are ever to stop wars and human rights atrocities then these countries need help in educating their young. And the education has to be of a kind that does not promote war or spread more lies. Though General Hillier never mentions Greg Mortenson http://www.threecupsoftea.com/ he preaches the same sermon when it comes to helping the people of Afghanistan. We need to help them, not take over, and the children need to be educated that is the foundation of destroying the Taliban who feeds off the desperation of people. Think about this if a father cannot feed his family, he gets desperate and if he does not have the basic education to create work or to know how to farm his land to produce crops to sustain his family and sell to others... then he and his family become prime targets for the Taliban and other insurgents. The Taliban need only to provide food and then they are free to spread their propaganda! Also, if a man who in his heart of hearts knows that the Taliban is evil but the only way for his family to eat is to work with them then he really has no other option.
This book was very informative and enjoyable to read. I finished it knowing more about the global issues our country faces. Also with a deeper appreciation for the people who serve our country. I would recommend this book to anyone, not just Canadians. It explains our military relationship to the US, something that the media I feel has not done effectively. It also goes beyond the headline hunters and educates us on what was really going on after Sept 11.
If anything this book made me one more time, Proud to be Canadian!
P.S. I have Sarah Palins book waiting for me at the library. I look forward to seeing just what she has to say.