Honesty, integrity… do we really know what this means?

I guess everything is relative, but in studying folks that lived during WWI, I see the kind of strength of spirit and determination that I don’t think we in the Canada of 2011 have any idea about.

Except from their example, of course.

My own grandfather, Ingram Bliss Jonah, signed up at age 16 in 1916.  His service record shows that he stated his birthdate was 1899.  Even his original family name, Jonah, somehow got mangled in the process, and he became Ingam Jonas.  I assume he didn’t want to get into trouble, being underage (16!) and said nothing when his name was incorrect.

I was looking at his attestation pappers, which my parents have an old copy of.  Then I looked it up online in the government database.  It was different.  I noticed there was an additional annotation written sideways, near the top.

It reads:

“Sworn declaration re date of Birth as 15th day February 1900.”

Where did that come from?  I asked my mother about this, and she laughed.  Apparently sometime in the 1950s a pension cheque arrived for Ing and he sent it back with a note that he had signed up underage and wanted to clear his record.

Who the heck sends back a pension cheque when it comes early?  Who writes to the government to correct a lie made in the name of King & Country so many years ago?

That’s honesty and integrity of the kind that saw my grandfather in good stead in the fields of France when he was only a kid, and later when he had kids of his own and wouldn’t let it slide when the truth had been buried.

I pray we don’t see the same kind of need to display his selfless courage, but I also pray that his values, that were shared by those who protected our freedom so many years ago, may live on in me and my kids.

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