Tuesday, November 11, 2008


This e-mail I received today really caught my attention...

British news paper salutes Canada . . . this is a good read. It is
funny how it took someone in England to put it into words...
Sunday Telegraph Article From today's UK wires:
Salute to a brave and modest nation - Kevin Myers, 'The Sunday
Telegraph' LONDON :

Until the deaths of Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan , probably
almost no one outside their home country had been aware that Canadian
troops are deployed in the region.

And as always, Canada will bury its dead, just as the rest of the
world, as always will forget its sacrifice, just as it always forgets
nearly everything Canada ever does.. It seems that Canada 's historic
mission is to come to the selfless aid both of its friends and of
complete strangers, and then, once the crisis is over, to be well and
truly ignored.

Canada is the perpetual wallflower that stands on the edge of the
hall, waiting for someone to come and ask her for a dance. A fire
breaks out, she risks life and limb to rescue her fellow dance-goers,
and suffers serious injuries. But when the hall is repaired and the
dancing resumes, there is Canada, the wallflower still, while those
she once helped Glamorously cavort across the floor, blithely
neglecting her yet again.

That is the price Canada pays for sharing the North American continent
with the United States , and for being a selfless friend of Britain in
two global conflicts.

For much of the 20th century, Canada was torn in two different
directions: It seemed to be a part of the old world, yet had an
address in the new one, and that divided identity ensured that it
never fully got the gratitude it deserved.

Yet it's purely voluntary contribution to the cause of freedom in two
world wars was perhaps the greatest of any democracy. Almost 10% of
Canada 's entire population of seven million people served in the
armed forces during the First World War, and nearly 60,000 died. The
great Allied victories of 1918 were spearheaded by Canadian troops,
perhaps the most capable soldiers in the entire British order of

Canada was repaid for its enormous sacrifice by downright neglect,
it's unique contribution to victory being absorbed into the popular
Memory as somehow or other the work of the 'British.'

The Second World War provided a re-run. The Canadian navy began the
war with a half dozen vessels, and ended up policing nearly half of
the Atlantic against U-boat attack. More than 120 Canadian warships
participated in the Normandy landings, during which 15,000 Canadian
soldiers went ashore on D-Day alone.

Canada finished the war with the third-largest navy and the fourth
largest air force in the world. The world thanked Canada with the
same sublime indifference as it had the previous time.

Canadian participation in the war was acknowledged in film only if it
was necessary to give an American actor a part in a campaign in which
the United States had clearly not participated - a touching
scrupulousness which, of course, Hollywood has since abandoned, as it
has any notion of a separate Canadian identity.

So it is a general rule that actors and filmmakers arriving in
Hollywood keep their nationality - unless, that is, they are Canadian.
Thus Mary Pickford, Walter Huston, Donald Sutherland, Michael J. Fox,
William Shatner, Norman Jewison, David Cronenberg, Alex Trebek, Art
Linkletter and Dan Aykroyd have in the popular perception become
American, and Christopher Plummer, British.

It is as if, in the very act of becoming famous, a Canadian ceases to
be Canadian, unless she is Margaret Atwood, who is as unshakably
Canadian as a moose, or Celine Dion, for whom Canada has proved quite
unable to find any takers.

Moreover, Canada is every bit as querulously alert to the achievements
of its sons and daughters as the rest of the world is completely
unaware of them. The Canadians proudly say of themselves - and are
unheard by anyone else - that 1% of the world's population has
provided 10% of the world's peacekeeping forces.

Canadian soldiers in the past half century have been the greatest
peacekeepers on Earth - in 39 missions on UN mandates, and six on
non-UN peacekeeping duties, from Vietnam to East Timor, from Sinai to

Yet the only foreign engagement that has entered the popular
non-Canadian imagination was the sorry affair in Somalia , in which
out-of-control paratroopers murdered two Somali infiltrators. Their
regiment was then disbanded in disgrace - a uniquely Canadian act of
self-abasement for which, naturally, the Canadians received no
international credit.

So who today in the United States knows about the stoic and selfless
friendship its northern neighbour has given it in Afghanistan ?

Rather like Cyrano de Bergerac , Canada repeatedly does honourable
things for honourable motives, but instead of being thanked for it, it
remains something of a figure of fun. It is the Canadian way, for
which Canadians should be proud, yet such honour comes at a high cost.
This past year more grieving Canadian families knew that cost all too
tragically well.

Lest we forget.

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