Canadian Sailors Permitted to Wear Arctic Star

The Arctic Star has not existed very long, but already it has sparked a slight degree of controversy due to a Governor General’s hesitation to allow Canadian sailors the right to wear it. The medal is meant for the several hundred WWII vets who brought necessities to Russian soldiers. Willing to give their lives in the North Atlantic seventy years ago in the name of their allies, they found themselves unable to wear the Arctic Star in no small part due to a bitter rivalry with Moscow.

Governor General David Johnston has finally granted them that privilege, deciding not to punish Canada’s elderly war veterans for Ottawa’s critical views of the Ukraine ordeal. Some believe that the Arctic Star, which praises veterans for helping Russia,would prove some Canadians’ views of Russia’s current state of affairs to be flimsy; others, however, feel the two matters bear no relation whatsoever.

One of the reasons Johnston had to change his mind on the matter in such a short time was the advanced age of the veterans who are to receive the medal, the grand majority of them being eighty to ninety years old or more. Because of this, any more delay on allowing the Arctic Star to be worn by veterans could easily result in said veterans missing the opportunity entirely. That is not to say that they have no other opportunities to receive honors, and many of them already have been awarded medals and honors for their supply runs in the North Atlantic. Some of those honors have even come directly from Russia herself.

Those involved in the North Atlantic convoys went through many hardships, occasionally having to hack away at the ice on their boats to keep moving. In fact, many of the dangers there were more due to weather than to opposition. The Arctic Star awards their doggedness in the face of freezing death, and it has been allowed just in time. Canada’s veterans are soon to be honored for their efforts in WWI and WWII, the Atlantic convoys among those being celebrated, the Global News reports.

The Arctic Star awards bravery as well as fellowship, and many are trying not to let current relationships with Russia hinder their ability to honor those who aided the Soviet Union in a time when all Allied forces had to band together to achieve victory over a common enemy. In the spirit of this fellowship, Governor General David Johnston has finally come around, and is letting surviving veterans wear the Arctic Star before any more precious time is wasted.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE