A Salute to a Brave & Modest Nation : CANADA

23 04 2007

Today I was invited to a FaceBook group called “The Amazing Race:Canada” – the idea of this facebook group was to get as many Canadians to join, there are similar groups for Britian and the USA.  The goal was to reach X amount of people in the group by a certain date, and ahead of the other countries participating.

On the ‘wall’ of the group, there was a link to the story below.  It is ‘thank you’ to Canada, who is always a thankless participant in many of the world’s conflicts.  Please take a moment to read it.  Thank you.

———————————————————————————————- Reprinted here is a remarkable tribute written by Irishman Kevin Myers about Canada’s record of quiet valour in wartime. This article appeared in the April 21, 2002 edition of the Sunday Telegraph, one of Britain’s largest circulation newspapers and in Canada’s National Post on April 26, 2002.

Kevin Myers is an Irish journalist and commentator, who currently writes for the Irish Independent. He is a former contributor to The Irish Times newspaper, where he wrote the An Irishman’s Diary column several times weekly. Until 2005, he also wrote for the Sunday Telegraph in the UK.

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The same article can be found many places online, but unfortunatly not on the Sunday Telegraph site directly.

Some places this article is reprinted at are CORNWALLIS Museum , CanMilAir The National Post Online & Bound by Gravity

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 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 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 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 week, four more grieving Canadian families knew that cost all too tragically well.

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5 responses

23 04 2007
fracas

Thanks for posting this Joey. I’ll link to your post here so that fraccers also come and take time to read it.

Go Joey – Canadian Extraordinaire!!

23 04 2007
kimberleyanne

Reading that makes me feel very proud to be Canadian but a little sad that our country generally doesn’t get the credit deserved.

I am very proud of where I come from and I always make sure that when people ask if I am American (I live in England at the moment) I make sure to correct them right away!!

24 04 2007
Joey

When I lived in England I used to do the same thing Kimberleyanne.

11 07 2007
John

Kevin Myers Has managed to dig his claws into the back of the United States with this letter. First of all let me say that I agree with giving the tribute to the Canadians that they have earned and I have the greatest respect for. Not everyone in the United States is unaware of the contribution by the country to our North. Canada and the US have a long history of being in combat together as allies. Being a retired soldier and former Special Forces trooper I am very aware of how the Canadians and Americans started what was called the”First Special Service Force (The Devil’s Brigade) which was a commando unit that trained at Fort Harrison near Helena, Montana in the US during WWII.
Anyone who watches the news or reads the paper is aware of the contributions made by Canada in the war on the Islamic fascist who want to kill us all.

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

The above quotation is answered with “Many of us are Mr Myers” and you can believe if anyone were to attack Canada, the “Un-knowing” Neighbors to the South would be there right with them against any enemy.

11 07 2007
Joey

Thank you for your reply John. And thank you for your service.

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