Will the year 2007
    be a great year?


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

British newspaper salutes Canada

Got this from my father. 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 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 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 unshakeably 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 peace keepers 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.

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