Last week, a group of men, were finally given the recognition they deserved. The USA awarded a Congressional Gold Medal to a group of vets known as the 'Black Devils' or the Devil's Brigade. They were a joint American-Canadian team who assisted in liberating Europe and were the precursor to the Special Forces Units that came to be in both countries years later. Originally 1,800 men, very few are left now - and about 50 in total attended a ceremony in Washington on February 2, 2015.
This story fascinated me for a couple of reasons; one of the men honoured is the father of a long-time friend. I have known him most of my life but it never crossed my mind that he was quite literally, a war hero. In fact, until I started reading the articles about this group and their award, I had no idea what his role was in the war. Secondly, the story of this group of young men, who used 'unconventional' tactics, to help win the war under cover of darkness is frankly amazing. They had the ability to to create fear in the Germans and have been the subject of movies and books.
Seventy years after war's end, there are 46 Canadian vets left who were part of that elite group. It's a shame that it took this many years for the American government to honour these men - though at the very least it was done while some were able to feel that their efforts were recognized and appreciated. The Canadian government bestowed their award a few years ago.
Part of the ceremony was aired live and I was glad to be able to witness this special piece of history. I think those of us in North America often take our freedoms for granted. Most of us are very far removed from war and what occurred 70 years ago. If not for the brave people who were willing to risk their lives, (and in many cases, lose their lives) at that terrible time in history, the world would be a very different place than it is today.
Thank you Devil's Brigade. Your award was most well-deserved and you have forged a place in history that will not be forgotten.