Monday, February 26, 2007

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 its 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 nearly60,000 died. The
great Allied victories of 1918 were spearheaded by Canadian troops, perhaps
the most capable soldiers in the entire British order of battle.
Canada was repaid for its enormous sacrifice by downright neglect, its
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 provided10% 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 Bosnia .
Yet the only foreign engagement that has entered the popular
on-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.

Please pass the on to any of your friends or relatives who
served in the Canadian Forces, it is a wonderful tribute to those who choose
to serve their country and the world in our quiet Canadian way.

Thanks Ralph B.

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