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I Remember the War

We were man and women so strong and true
Risking our lives for others ever day
On the frontlines so that others would live
So how do you forget us – you have nothing to say?
With my black skin...

Over thirty thousand of my fellow Canadians fought
Five hundred and sixteen lost their lives
Doing what was honourable to defend South Korea
Weapons that varied from bullets to knives
With my black skin...

As a black Canadian soldier our fight was complex
Attitudes and prejudices made it difficult just to enrol
Existing in a society still unjust for our kind
Made us more determined to fight with our heart and soul
With my black skin...

Skin colour was an issue for some involved
Our obligation to prove ourselves was a must
Our duty and commission to protect South Korea
Against what we LIVED and KNEW to be unjust
With my black skin...

Joseph Allan Niles – front line, Special Force
Gus Este – a medic catering to affliction
Errol Patrick – Royal Canadian Horse Artillery
All with black skin, served with honour and distinction!
With my black skin...

 July 23, 2013,sixty years of thought and reflection
Three frightful years we endured to the end
Oh Canada! We stood on guard for thee
Proudly representing our home and native land
With my black skin...

How can we forget the Korean War?
True patriot love in ALL thy sons command
Including the black soldiers who left a lasting mark
And the ultimate sacrifice some paid in the end
With my black skin...I must remember the war!

Chanda-LaBre BaileyDaniel McIntyre Collegiate Institute, Winnipeg, Manitoba

I Remember the War

Accompanying Note

As a young black Canadian female, I believe that it is important to bring attention to the black Canadians who served in the Korean War. I wanted to do this because not only is the Korean War often forgotten, but so is the role that many blacks played even as volunteers in the war. Although black Canadians had served in wars in the past, during WWII (1939-1945) blacks were still being rejected as volunteers and some segregation still existed even after they were allowed to serve. Ontario was the first Province to pass the Racial Discrimination Act of 1944. Despite legislation that had taken place across Canada, the 50’s still brought about great amounts of discrimination against blacks including trying to enter theatres and sit where they wanted in restaurants. What I wanted to bring forward in this poem was a positive look at how these black soldiers stood side by side with their fellow Canadians and fought for South Korea to live in peace, while they had to return to live in an unjust society. I wanted to show how when colour is put aside and people are not judged by the colour of their skin they can come together and accomplish such a great feat. I included some of the lyrics from the Canadian anthem because I believe that every soldier that played a role in the Korean War saw themselves not just as a soldier, not just as a black soldier, but as a proud Canadian. Mr. Gus Este served in the Korean War as a medical assistant. He retired with recognition of 33 years of military service. He received several awards including the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal. Errol Patrick enlisted for the Korean War where he was an artillery soldier with the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery Regiment. He retired with 35 years of military service. Mr. Joseph Allan Niles enlisted in the Canadian Forces and became part of a special force with the Royal Canadian Regiment. He served on the frontlines as a fighting patrol. He served for 3 years.

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