The Proud Canadian Soldier Project

On this Remembrance Day I recall, with gratitude and pride, a special project I was involved with in 2005, Canada’s Year of the Veteran. The Proud Canadian Soldier Project.

My friend Jay Anthony Willis, who served in the Canadian Navy, is a gifted songwriter and singer. In 1999 he wrote an amazing song, Proud Canadian Soldier, after watching the Remembrance Day Ceremonies in Ottawa and reflecting on his fathers service in the Royal Canadian Navy during the Second World War.

Jill Younghusband, a mutual friend, and an amazing vocalist and a former member of the Canadian Air Force, performed Proud Canadian Soldier at the 2004 Remembrance Day Ceremonies in Edmonton at the Butterdome. Jill’s performance evoked strong emotions and accolades from the thousands in the audience.

After hearing Jill perform the song, Captain Brian Greenwood, conductor and arranger for The Royal Canadian Artillery Band asked if he could do an arrangement of the song for the Royal Canadian Artillery Band. Jay agreed.

I will never forget the night I sat with Jay in the Myer Horowitz Theatre at the U of A as we heard Jill perform Proud Canadian Soldier with The Royal Canadian Artillery Band for the first time. Wow! The mostly veteran and military audience rose in unison with a heartfelt and enthusiastic ovation, many with tears running down their cheeks. It was one of those amazing moments when the talents of many artists come together to create something truly special.

Jay was choked up and said to me, “Jill has taken my ballerina in dance classes and turned her into a prima ballerina.”

I said, “Jay, Proud Canadian Soldier, is something really special. Would you be willing to give it away as a musical poppy in celebration of The Year of the Veteran (2005). Can you imagine school children performing Proud Canadian Soldier at Remembrance Day services across the country and radio stations playing it coast to coast on Remembrance Day.”

“Yes, Larry I would. What do you need me to do?”

“Introduce me to Captain Brian Greenwood.”

Everyone was very supportive. Jay and Captain Brian Greenwood, transferred their copyrights to my company, LIAP Media Corp. on the condition that the song and the music would be given away for non-commercial use. Jill and Captain Brian Greenwood and the Royal Canadian Artillery Band received approval and recorded the song and LIAP Media Corp. funded a few costs and owned the master recording.

Meanwhile my nephew Wesley Gunderson and I developed a website, www.ProudCanadianSoldier.com to explain the program, to facilitate downloads of the song and to provide PDF copies of the sheet music. You can still go to the site.

I developed a public relations program, which included a national media release and a personal letter to every Member of Parliament and the Governor General. We launched the program in the fall of 2005, with enough time to learn the song for Remembrance Day 2005, The Year of the Veteran.

 

A Google search of “Proud Canadian Soldier” today will show a host of performances and links. My favorite is the performance by MCpl Tammy Shaw with the Governor General’s Foot Guards Regimental Band. It may be the best response I’ve ever received to a letter I’ve written.

The point of the Proud Canadian Soldier Project and Remembrance Day is to remember with gratitude and to honor the sacrifices made by Canadian service men and women past and present. I do.

One of my father’s last requests when he was dying was that I never to forget Remembrance Day, the veterans and the price paid for the freedom’s we all enjoy. “Please make sure you teach my grandchildren (my children) about Remembrance Day too and what it means.” He said.

I’m doing my best dad.

Thank you Jay, Jill, Brian and members of the Royal Canadian Artillery Band, Wesley Gunderson and the others who supported this project. Finally, thank you everyone who embraced this project and made and gave CD copies of the song to veterans in your community and said thank you to them in person. This is still a good idea.

 

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