Monday, November 11, 2013

November 11

Almost skipped buying the poppy this year.

It started when I read the recent Throne Speech and all its bombastic piffle about how the New Harper Government was rebuilding this country's honour and pride because Heroes! Veterans! Vimy Ridge! the Monarchy! did we say Heroes! It felt like the poppy was being claimed as a marker for all that, even as the only real policy the government seems to have on veterans is targeting them for cutbacks.  I was slow to get in the mood this month.

But you don't wear a poppy to support The Legion, the Government, or History Television.  You wear a poppy to remember the dead.

From the Toronto Starlink to a free app locating 118,000 Canadians who have died in the service.

In Norman Hillmer's collection of O.D. Skelton documents, there is a document from early September 1939.  Skelton, head of External Affairs, despairs. It is all starting again, he assumes: Ready Aye Ready, Canadian independence about to be surrendered to imperial war fever, another round of slaughter.

Before his death in 1941. Skelton came around to the necessity of the war and to Canada's ability to participate in it as an independent power. But I wish the speech-writing, policy-making operatives in the PMO would encounter his very alien sensibility.

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