What Is It?

November 11, 2000
by Bruce M. Dinsmore

Isaiah 2:4 and Micah 4:3 – They will beat their swords into ploughshares. (NIV)

It's a metal box, with a faceplate full of knobs and dials. Most people don't notice it, and even if they do, they have to ask, "What is it?" "It" is a Canadian Marconi model FR12 transmitter/receiver. Some people would call it a "boat anchor", but it is a World War II ship's radio. Built in 1944, it is 69 pounds of then state-of-the-art radio gear. Thus, it's quite properly sitting on a shelf in the main radio room of H.M.C.S. Haida.

Her Majesty's Canadian Ship Haida is a museum ship berthed in the harbour in Toronto, Ontario. She is the last existing "Tribal" class destroyer. "Tribals" were built in England for the Allied navies during World War II. This one was named after a Canadian west-coast Native group. She is a sister ship to the H.M.C.S. Sackville, whose story I told last Remembrance Day in the Daily devotional Hearts of Oak. Like the Sackville, Haida is also a museum, open to the public in the summer. Thousands of people visit her every year, crawling in and climbing all over the ship, to get a real-life glimpse of the grim and heroic days of World War II.

Many are children. For them, this is a history book come alive. Others are people who have made the choice to live in Canada, and they may not know of the sacrifices made by people a generation ago, so they can live in peace and security today. A few are men. No longer as young as they once were, they wore the blue of the Royal Canadian Navy with pride. They volunteered, and served in the cause of peace and freedom, when their country called.

Haida served off Europe. For half a century there has been peace, and the barriers have fallen. Development and economic co-operation undreamed of back then are taking place every day.

Haida also saw action with the United Nations forces in Korea. In today's North America, few know much of that conflict beyond the TV show M.A.S.H. Duty there was no comedy show. The threat to peace was real, the bullets just as deadly.

What about model FR12? It and the other radio gear have a new use. The vintage radio gear in the main radio room has been restored, by painstaking volunteer labour, and is operational. In addition to seeing what the radio room would have looked and sounded like when Haida was operational, the amateur radio operators who worked on the radio room got a ham licence. The radio sets that sent and received messages of war and orders for battles now send greetings and messages of international friendship on the ham bands. Indeed, these "swords" are being used as ploughshares.

In two World Wars, in Korea, and in U. N. peacekeeping missions around the globe, Canada has paid the price — in blood — for the freedom we enjoy today. War is horrible, but if we are to continue to live free, we need to be willing to fight for what we believe in, when a Hitler walks the earth.

Prayer: Dear Lord, we see the veterans on parade today. They are in front of the cenotaph; they are on television. Today, we see them, numbers diminishing every day. Let us not forget them the other 364 days when they are not on television. For they are the seniors, whom our eyes slide by every day. They are the people in the veterans' hospitals and the old-age homes. They are also the people we cannot see, for they are seen only by You and Your angels because they are the ones to died far too young, that others may live longer, and even more, that others like us, may live on in peace and freedom. Amen.

About the author:

Bruce M. Dinsmore <dinsmore@pathcom.com>
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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