Preserving and Promoting local history for the former Rideau Township
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Mr. Fowler showed pictures of Canadian medals given to soldiers in times of courageous acts. These were the Victoria Cross, (no awards of the Canadian Cross awarded  thus far), the Star of Military Valour, (89 awarded) and the Medal of Military Valour (398 awarded).

Moving on to the Afghanistan Missions, Mr. Fowler focused on Athena Phase II, 2006-2010 in Kandahar. He showed maps of the country, pointed out areas where the Canadian troops were stationed and fought, and spoke of the difficulty of being unable to recognize a Taliban insurgent from a villager. We saw photos of IEDs placed by the enemy in the roads, pathways, fields and walls.  Soldiers lived with the constant threat of stepping on one of these or being attacked by a seemingly friendly person.

Mr. Fowler interspersed his talk with stories of men who were courageous in the line of duty. One of these was MWO Richard Stacey who won the Star of Valour for his actions in a counter insurgency operation – Clearing the Horn.

At the end of the evening, Bill Tupper thanked Mr. Fowler and presented him with a honourary membership to the RTHS and Betty Bartlett’s book ‘Buildings of Old Rideau Township.’  

Bill Tupper thanking our guest

Bill Tupper thanking Bob Fowler

On Wednesday, November 15, the Rideau Township Historical Society welcomed Robert Fowler to speak on the themes from his two latest books.  His love of military history was set aside during his career at Computer Devices, with the Canadian National Railway and in the Civil Service.  Since his retirement, he has been able to return to that love and has written four books and enjoys sharing his knowledge with groups such as the RTHS.

Robert Fowler presenting

Robert Fowler presenting

He began by looking at the meaning of courage and asking several questions, causing us to put on our thinking caps.  What is courage?  What is a hero?  Is bravery the same as courage?  Can one be afraid and courageous at the same time?  Does motive change degrees of courage? If  one ignores danger, is the act courageous or reckless?

Courage is a quality of the mind.  Bravery lies in the blood. In his book, ‘Anatomy Of Courage’, Dr. Charles Wilson, a medical officer in WWI and personal physician for Winston Churchill stated courage is will power. Courageous acts fulfill noble ends in the face of fearful danger.

The source of courage could be loyalty to comrades, a result of training and discipline, commitment to a unit, or personal honour and a sense of duty. Soldiers could have a fighting spirit or a strong belief in an over-riding cause.

Courage in Battle and the Canadian Experience in Afghanistan
Robert Fowler

Article by Pat Earl,  Photos by, Maureen McPhee