Lest we forget ...
> This is a good read - funny how it took someone in England to put it
> into words...
> Subject: Sunday Telegraph Article
> From today's UK wires: Salute to a brave and modest nation
> Kevin Myers, The Sunday Telegraph (21/04/2002)
> LONDON - Until the deaths last week of four Canadian soldiers
> accidentally killed by a U.S. warplane in Afghanistan, probably almost
> no one outside their home country had been aware that Canadian troops
> were deployed in the region. And as always, Canada will now 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 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 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 week, four more grieving Canadian
> families knew that cost all too tragically well.
> **** ****
> Please pass the on or print it and give it 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.