My father was in WW ll. He was very badly wounded. My father was wounded so badly that he received a 100% disability pension. That says something when you consider that a soldier who lost both legs would receive an 80% disability pension. My father kept all his limbs but the damage was still so horrific that he was classed as 100% disabled.
To my way of thinking, 100% disabled is dead. For much of the first decade after the war, he thought so, too.
My father was totally wrecked and despite the healing, it took him the rest of his life to get near half better. It took him two years just to get out of the hospital bed and for the next two years after that he was employed at Shaughnessy Hospital as a janitor because he kept collapsing. It was easier to treat him when he was already there.
I mention all this because I know that he would be disgusted by Remembrance Day 2014 as presented by a government near you. He was very respectful of Remembrance Day but he felt that way because of the soldiers and the victims of war – NOT the government then. NOT the government now.
He didn’t speak much of the war and, when he did, it was clear: war is hell and there is no glory in it. He also would have said, “Nor should there be any political gain derived from it!”
Despite the tragedy (and sacrifice) of Cpl. Cirillo, my father would have seen the exaggeration of that nut-bar incident at the Parliament promoted as a quasi-terrorist incident as ridiculous.
My father seethed with anger most of his life but it mostly it just bubbled like lava. But sometimes it erupted like a volcano. Hyperbole by politicians would have just raised the temperature a little bit. Political exploitation, on the other hand, might have set him off like Vesuvius.
He would have grumbled over the tax dollars spent by the Conservative party prior to the nut-bar incident glorifying the war of 1812. “What the hell are they doing that for?” he would have growled.
And again all the saber-rattling over Ukraine and now Iraq.
And all the government of Canada sponsored TV ads imploring us to remember.
And all the fuss over the Franklin Expedition. “Who cares about that, anyway?”
He would have been a little bit more riled over the huge Mother of Canada statue proposed to commemorate Canada’s war dead as stupid and ill-considered. “Why not just help the actual veterans with those millions? Or equip our troops properly?”
But I think he would have been very angry over the whole of it, the cumulative acts by government over the last couple of years to exploit our history for political gain and especially this false alignment of the nut-bar incident with real soldiers in a real war (the victims of the two mental cases are being paraded as soldiers killed on home ground defending our country).
I think he would have raged at Harper standing in front of poppies and monuments and at commemorations talking nonsense when the veterans themselves would likely string the minister of Veterans Affairs from the nearest tree.
I am pretty sure my father would have erupted at the constant political exploitation of everything Canadian and God help the closest politician to him when that happened.
The reason I can say all this is because I, too, am nauseated by all this pomp and hypocrisy being trotted out as some kind of patriotic Canadian-ism. It is not. We are being victimized by political boosterism. It’s propaganda in a uniform. This is USA-type nationalism to glorify our nation and, by association, our current government. It is sickening.
We can be proud of being Canadian all by ourselves, thank you.
If my father’s story is anything to go by (and he was there and he paid the price), war should not be glorified. Not ever. Victims should never be exploited for politics. The general population should not be so easily manipulated as they are (record turnouts for Memorial Day ceremonies thanks to the manipulation of the story for the politicians to ride the tunics of the soldiers). We are a free people and we should exercise that freedom to think for ourselves and NOT allow ourselves to be brainwashed by crass, self promoting politicians.
My father would have said, “Canada is peaceful by nature and that is the way it should be. Any incidents of war were forced on us and let it be left at that. The politicians should stay in the shadows where they belong. And pipsqueaks like Harper should shut the hell up!