I had the pleasure of photographing the portraiture sitting of Admiral Ralph Hennessy, the oldest remaining Admiral from the Royal Canadian Navy that served in WWII. I was deeply moved by the connection that he had to his wife Dianne, and the obvious love and adoration they had for each other. The Admiral, at 95 has assumed heath challenges, and Dianne has her own, yet they are so genuine and so incredibly kind to each other. You certainly can feel and see who this man would have been in his prime. Proud yet humble, stately yet unassuming.
I have always been a proud Canadian and certainly will always be. However when you come in contact with a Canadian such as Admiral Henessey you can’t help but stand a little bit taller. Knowing that such great men and women came before you doing such noble and selfless things for you, and for your country. Christian Corbet the sculptor who is doing the portrait bust to honour Admiral Hennessey (and who also did the portrait bust of Prince Phillip, and I was honoured to be the photographer for that unveiling
) asked the question “In your training, were you taught to hate your enemy or to do what was needed to forward the cause?” The admiral simply replied “The latter”. There was (and is) such honour in the Admiral’s demeanour. The Admiral recounts a story of when he was in direct combat with a German U-boat in the battle of the Atlantic. Even when the ship that the Admiral was on sunk the German U-boat they retrieved 18 soldiers and 2 officers from the water. Once the Germans were on board continuing to hail their leader with outstretched arms, the Canadians still took care of them. Precautions were taken certainly, but they still treated their “enemies” with respect. To me that is a point of pride to be Canadian. It is Remembrance Day, may we remember those who fought for our freedoms, but also be thankful for the character of those men and women who represented Canada before us. A big part of the reason I am proud to call myself Canadian.