Kids These Days

By Dave O'Malley   Cliquez ici pour la version française

Here's the scene. A couple of us 60 year-olds are sitting in a food court in some nameless mall, just starting in on their double double coffees and hot breakfast sandwich on a biscuit, the wife unwrapping a cinnamon bagel, double toasted with butter. The morning paper is shared out between them – the sports section for him, the style section for her. Couple of hot sips into the coffees and don't you know it, but four teenagers shuffle by and plunk down at the next table. They wear clothing deliberately modelled after one of Canada's finest groups of role models – convicts. Their pants, worn belted below the hips, defy gravity and comfort. Each wears headphone sets larger than those worn by submarine sonar operators, puffy jackets of camo with dubious ability to make them less visible, and hats clearly made with the intent of expressing an Intelligence Quotient less than 60. The kids bellow to each other over the meat cleaver thump of the techno-rap music that hisses from their phones. They curse, slouch, one even spits on the floor. They slurp down Ice Caps and squirt ketchup at each other and on their hash browns. Every second word is an F-bomb. They try to impress each other with stories of fights they were in, cops they'd dissed, and mayhem they'd caused. They drop stuff on the floor, leave their feet out in the aisle, and laugh at a 90-year-old man trying to get by them.

Eventually they leave, jostling each other, not even trying to pick up their litter. At the door, a lady holds the door for the 90-year-old as he shuffles toward her. The teenagers run ahead and squeeze past him to beat him to the door, nearly knock him over and are gone. The 60-year-old man, whose breakfast has been soured by the young louts, shakes his head slowly and says to his wife: “Kids these days... they don't have respect.”

It's a common lament, one I hear nearly every day from men and women of my generation. Men and women like you! My generation, brought up on the stories about and relationships with the men and women of the so-called Greatest Generation, look today at the apparent demise of morals, respectful behaviour, kindness towards the elderly and sensitivity to others and we feel that society's youngest generation is lost forever in a sea of self-indulgence and self-importance. The recent orgy of bad behaviour and moronic hooliganism following the Vancouver Canucks loss in the Stanley Cup finals just confirmed for us the fact that we are doomed.

Well people... that ain't the case.

While there is a noticeably greater degree of disrespect, misdirected adulation and materialism in some young people today that did not exist when we and our grandparents grew up, most youths today are just struggling to fit in – to find a course that will take them to a place of belonging and self-worth.

Amongst these seemingly ordinary young Canadians, there is a group of highly motivated ones – boys and girls, young men and women, who have found that place, who are on that course. These are the beaming, well-mannered, scrubbed-faced, determined youths whose eyes are on the skies and a limitless future – the Royal Canadian Air Cadets – 27,000 strong. This is the seedbed for tomorrow's aviators, tomorrow's engineers, and above all, tomorrow's citizens and leaders.

It is these young people that Vintage Wings of Canada will reach this summer as part of our Yellow Wings 2013 Tour, sponsored in part by Raytheon Canada. These young people are powerfully self-motivated. They are strong of mind and heart. They are developing experiences and friendships to power them through the rest of their lives. They are on the right track. They are the best we have in Canada and we want to empower them to reach even greater heights. We are looking to inspire them. During the Second World War, the finest natural leaders were found in the ranks of pilots and aircrew in the RCAF and quickly supported, given responsibility and reward. We are doing the same.

It doesn't take a clairvoyant to see the strong future in the eyes of young Warrant Officer First Class Chris Ducas, seen here leading his class of recently promoted cadets in a march past at the Trenton Air Cadet Summer Training Centre (TACSTC 2009). The Vintage Wings of Canada Yellow Wings 2013 tour will find and inspire young men and women like Chris to reach their full and awesome potential. Photo: Dean Ducas

As we speak, Astronaut Chris Hadfield is orbiting the planet above us as Commander of the International Space Station. He is fulfilling a lifelong ambition to become an astronaut and to lead Canada, and indeed the human race, toward a future of discovery. Along the way, Chris became an engineer, a fighter pilot, a test pilot, a jet warbird pilot, a gifted musician, and now Canada’s senior astronaut on his third mission to space – a five-month voyage of discovery.

Chris was able to realize his dream through Canada’s top youth leadership training program – the Royal Canadian Air Cadets. For 70 years, the Air Cadet program has shaped the great Canadian leaders of the next generations. Rewarding excellence, the Air Cadet program allows young boys and girls to achieve their glider and powered pilot’s licenses, but only after learning leadership skills, exhibiting discipline, and excelling through hard work.

In the summer of 2013, in partnership with the Air Cadet movement, Vintage Wings of Canada’s six vintage training aircraft, known as Yellow Wings, will fan out across Canada, making appearances at the major cadet flying camps across the country. Our goal is to inspire these – the finest, most disciplined and ambitious of our youth – with the stories and lessons that inhabit the souls of these vintage aircraft. We will put thousands of cadets into the cockpit of one of these historic flying machines, and we will take 550 of the most deserving of these youths into the sky for a time machine trip to a period in Canadian history populated by exceptional leaders – men and women who understood and applied the ideals of discipline, duty, honour, and sacrifice… and saved the world!

The 2013 Yellow Wings program will do more than just fly. We will tell the story of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, Canada’s greatest contribution to victory in the Second World War and, with the support of Raytheon Canada and the Canadian Space Agency, we will be promoting the benefits of an education in math and sciences, and a career in engineering and aerospace technology.

This is not a program of intervention, it is a program of inspiration.

These young people are not charity cases. These young people can actually make it on their own. That is not why we are offering this powerful experience of time travel. We are doing it for the future of Canada, for the selfish reason that we want this country to be lead by the brightest, the best and the most disciplined. We want to inspire them to even greater achievement. We want them to see the benefits of the course they have selected – NOW! We want them to feel part of the continuum that is history, for 20 years from now, they will be making it.

Now Listen up Vintage News readers!

We need your financial support to make this happen. Our pilots are donating their time and expenses, while the aircraft owners of Vintage Wings are donating the use of their aircraft. But it takes gas, oil, maintenance, accommodations, and more to make this a reality. The great leaders and contributors to Canada’s future are among the ranks of our Air Cadets. Not every one of these cadets will be an astronaut or a fighter pilot, but each of them we touch with our Yellow Wings program will think a little more about their education, their careers, and their future, and will become a better Canadian citizen.

I ask you now – stop lamenting the state of our youth today and put your money where your thoughts have been. If you, as a Vintage News reader, like what we are doing to promote our aviation history, make a small donation now to keep Canada on the right track. We need your financial support to make this happen. It's as simple as that. Twenty or fifty bucks will be received with much gratitude. Support this program with a generous tax deductible donation today and you will confirm for one of our best young people that they belong here, that they are on the right track and that they have made the right choice.

Click here to donate. Every little bit helps.

Volunteer pilots like Nova Scotia's George King will take leading cadets on a flight into history to share with them the stories of men like 95-year-old Archie Pennie, who, during the Second World War, taught a squadron's worth of young pilots to fly, fight and survive the coming ordeal. Archie's story is one of a hundred thousand that together tell the story of a country that found the leaders it needed in a time of peril. To fly back in time and experience the same sights, smells, sounds and feelings as these heroes, will inspire young people like this cadet to look deep inside themselves to find the same degree of worthiness. King and his fellow pilots donate their time and expenses to the program. Photo: Yellow Wings Tour

How do we know that the cadet program works? Witness the story of Cadet Jeremy Hansen (left) who, as a young cadet meeting fighter pilots of the Canadian Forces, set his sights on being just that. Captain Jeremy Hansen (middle), a CF-18 Hornet fighter pilot just a few short years later, asked Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield (himself a former Cadet) for advice on how to achieve a similar goal. It was Chris' inspiration and advice that turned Cadet Hansen into Astronaut Hansen.

Rob Fleck, Vintage Wings of Canada pilot and President, tells assembled Canadian Cadets about Vintage Wings of Canada, the Mustang IV and the story of the Robillard Brothers, Larry and Rocky, two Second World War fighter pilots to whom the aircraft is dedicated. These young people will go on to careers in every field possible, but they will do so understanding their place in our remarkable history. DND Photo by Cpl Ian Thompson

Tomorrow's leaders, like Warrant Officer First Class Chris Ducas, are on the right track. Let's let them know it. Photo: Dean Ducas

It takes a trip back in time to see the way forward. He'll lead the way, you just have to back him. Photo: Yellow Wings Tour

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