Remembrance Day is an emotional time of the year for the Wallace family. Born and raised in Saskatoon, family members have a long-standing history of service to the Canadian military.
Sailor 2nd Class Brendan Wallace from the Naval Reserve unit His Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Unicorn in Saskatoon, returned in July after participating in an overseas deployment on the Royal Canadian Navy frigate HMCS Halifax.
Wallace was deployed on Operation Reassurance in the North Atlantic and Baltic Sea to help make Central and Eastern Europe more secure and stable and represents the third generation of Wallace’s to serve.
“It’s kind of in my blood,” Wallace said, “it was also for me, a way to serve my country and show my dedication to Canada.”
Wallace said that it was very important to him to follow in the footsteps of his father and grandfather before him.
“They are both individuals that I look up to greatly. My grandfather’s service during the Second World War is really inspirational to me and means a lot.”
“We all know Canada is an amazing country, but it isn’t what it is without the people who are willing to sacrifice to keep it that way,” said Wallace. “So, being able to go out and do this for other Canadians so they can stay home and enjoy that nice peaceful life with all of its freedoms, that is such a big part of it for me.”
Wallace said he has nothing but fond memories of his three years of service.
“Everything is amazing. Every exercise you go on, every person you meet is just part of the experience.”
He said Remembrance Day is an important day for the military personnel currently serving and those that came before.
“For me, it’s a reminder of the guys who have made the ultimate sacrifice and what they stood for and what we now stand for in their wake. They forged the trail and now we maintain it.”
Wallace looks to serve the military for the remainder of his career.
“Ideally, I’ll do this until I can’t physically do the job anymore. I don’t see that being anytime soon. I’d like to get a full 25 years in.”
Peter and Karen Wallace, Brendan’s parents, both served several decades with HMCS Unicorn.
Karen served from 1982-2019 and said she originally joined because she needed a job. However, her motivations changed as her experience went on.
“I joined because I really needed a job,” said Karen “but I stayed because this is one of the very best jobs a person could possibly have, when you get to be a part-time sailor, and a full-time ‘something else.’”
Peter Wallace gave 24 years of service to HMCS Unicorn and said that it was a family tradition. His father, three uncles and an aunt served in the Second World War.
“There is a tremendous amount of military history on the Wallace side, not as much on my side although there is some affiliation with the forces through the years,” said Karen. “It just sometimes can be a bit of a tough time.”
“It is a time to reflect on what people have done for this country, whether that is in uniform or not, to stop and just pause and think about that for a few minutes. We honour that on one day, although many of us think about that far more often than just on Remembrance Day.”
The Wallace military legacy is being carried on by Brendan.
“I think Peter and I both have fabulous experiences in the Naval Reserve,” said Karen. “We went to places that people don’t normally just go to and we got to have experiences that were fun and sometimes difficult, but they were all really rewarding and both Brendan and Alexa would hear about that around the supper table in the conversation that we would have so it was reflected as positive thing.”
Karen believes that this is the reason that Brendan was inclined to join the Naval Reserve. She noted he’s someone who believes in justice, right and wrong, and protecting others.
“I think it’s a fantastic fit for him and I think we are both very proud of the things he has done while he has been in the Navy and the places he has gone and the accomplishments he has made.”
Alexa Wallace, Peter and Karen’s oldest child, explains that she is fiercely proud of her younger brother for joining the Navy, but she is also terrified for him.
“He’s following the family legacy; he has chosen a career entirely dedicated to service where he has signed over his life. If the military tells him to go somewhere, he will go and it doesn’t matter what the danger factor is, he is committed to doing that.”
“Military always comes with a bit of uncertainty,” said Alexa, “so he can’t tell us where he is precisely or what he is doing.”
Though Alexa herself did not choose a career in the military, she said she feels privileged to be part of a military family.
“Military has always been a significant part of my growing up. There is a community that surrounds it, and that community has been my own. There is a bit of distance because I didn’t follow in those same footsteps but it’s amazing to me to hear what they have committed to do and I have such an admiration for the decision they have made.”
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