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Lewis MacKenzie, OC
The People's General

Going Big! Going Bold! Getting it Done!
Beryl Wajsman 10 February 2007

“In the final analysis, on the battlefield of war or life, you don’t die for your God
 or your Queen or even your country. You die for your friends.”
~ Maj.-Gen. Lewis W. MacKenzie

Maj.-Gen. Lewis MacKenzie’s induction as a Member of the Order of Canada should fill all Canadians with pride, and more importantly, with hope. I say this not because Lew MacKenzie is a friend and trusted advisor. But because this nation, after so many years mired in moral equivalency, has too few voices of courage, honor and authenticity. Lewis MacKenzie does not run between the raindrops. He dares to care. And unlike so many in public life, he can tell right from wrong. Until Prime Minister Harper’s election and the brave new direction he set for Canada’s foreign and military policies, Gen. MacKenzie’s was almost a voice in the wilderness in this land. In so many places and at so many times he championed the faith, and upheld the vision, that we were at our best when we engaged ourselves fully in all of mankind’s struggles for redemptive change. That we had a responsibility to shoulder our fair share of the burden of assuring the survival and success of liberty. “Go big, go bold and get it done” he has told us time and again. Canadians are finally beginning to get it.

We all know of his great achievements. He served in Canada's armed forces for 33 years retiring in 1993. He is world-renowned for his work as a peacekeeper, having served nine tours in Egypt, Cyprus, Vietnam, Central America and the former Yugoslavia. His role as Chief of Staff for the United Nations Protection Force in Yugoslavia in 1992 brought him to international prominence. That year in Sarajevo prompted the writing of his highly regarded 1993 book “Peacekeeper: The Road to Sarajevo” a chronicle of his peacekeeping experiences from around the world. The book led to the 1994 CBC documentary entitled “A Soldier's Peace”. Today he is a much sought-after speaker and important writer and commentator on foreign and military affairs.


With Gen. MacKenzie before his address
to students on the lessons of the Holocaust

But for Lew MacKenzie it’s not about the big things and the grand honours. It’s about the tradition of service and sacrifice and passing on the torch of that legacy to the next generation. That’s why despite a hectic schedule, he takes the time to speak to the young. When the Institute worked with the English Montreal School Board on the renaming of a high school honoring Italian Holocaust hero Giovanni Palatucci, Jack Dym, the EMSB’s Mike Cohen,  and I could think of no one better suited than Lew MacKenzie to address 600 students from the east and west ends of Montreal on the universal lessons of that horrible period and of the responsibility each generation has to bear memory and witness. We were thrilled and privileged when he accepted to come. His address awed and stirred the students.

EMSB Chairman Dominic Spiridogliozzi said at the event that, “Through this project we wish to send a message about one man's stand against oppression. We are trying to promote the idea to students in this day and age that they need to realize that every little bit of resistance to oppression helps, and sometimes in a very significant way, if people stand by their values.” There could be no better standard-bearer of those values we cherish as a nation than Lewis W. MacKenzie. He recently said in Toronto that “In the final analysis, on the battlefield of war or life, you don’t die for your God or your Queen or even your country. You die for your friends.” This is a leader you follow to hell and back.

Lew, we wish you well.  

To read some of Gen. MacKenzie latest and most compelling writings, including his article on “The Real Defence Priorities” that he wrote for BARRICADES, please go to the following link on our website:



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