“At the heart of it, my job at Pearson is to design solutions and create seamless experiences for our passengers. The airport is a big, complex business. The only place more complex is the military, and as well as being an Associate Director here, I am a Lieutenant-Colonel in the Canadian Army Reserves.
I enlisted as a private at age 19. I’ve completed tours in Yugoslavia and Afghanistan, and I commanded the Royal Highland Fusiliers of Canada for five years. I’ve been at a cenotaph for Remembrance Day in uniform every year since I was 12. What I think about during those moments of silence has changed over time, though.
Our unit is 150 years old and I have read the history many times. It’s a thin golden thread that weaves us together in a historical context of fighting tradition. Each service member sustains that thread, often at extreme consequences.
I once had dinner with some surviving veterans of the Highland Light Infantry and antedate regiment of the Royal Highland Fusiliers of Canada. They had fought together in the battle for Buron, France, at the Highland Light Infantry’s first battle in 1944. Half of the battalion was wounded or killed that day, and here are these same men telling me the story across the table. They’re talking about the Stark brothers, then the Kennedy brothers, men whose names are inscribed on a memorial in the Mess. The man beside me had a brother on that wall, too.
When the war in Afghanistan kicked in, I started to recognize the names of casualties. They were guys I had had beers with or shared a platoon with. That’s when it starts to make the connection. Now that golden thread is real and it’s even stronger. It makes historical context a personal context, and the memories of people in my life are part of that golden thread now.”
- Lt-Col. J. J. McDonald., Associate Director, Terminal Development & Planning