Tuesday, January 16, 2007

patriotically correct (2)

On the eve of Remembrance Day 2006, Dominion Institute Executive Director Rudyard Griffiths in the Globe and Mail repeated a call he's been making of late, that when the last First World War veteran resident in Canada dies, he be given a state funeral. (Note "resident." Earlier, when the Globe discovered that 1 of the 3 of the survivors now resides in the U.S., Griffiths was called back. After re-examining the tapes, he overturned the call made on the field, deciding that only a resident should receive a state funeral.) "I say, [I say??] let us for once cast off the usual Canadian timidity and understatement when it comes to celebrating our past."

What could the Canadian government say? To oppose such a suggestion would be to oppose honouring our veterans, and what's the upside of that? They loved the idea. Still, it might have been nice to ask the 3 surviving veterans first. They've now said they don't want such a funeral. Nonetheless, the Canadian government has announced its offer stands.

But that's not enough for some people. In a letter to the Globe, James S. Scott of Toronto writes,
Would someone please explain to those objecting to a state funeral for the last First World War veteran, including, apparently, even the last three survivors and their families, that this occasion is designed to celebrate and memorialize the contributions of all 600,000 Canadians who served in that most horrific of modern military slaughters? ... It seems that, in this most materialistic and literal-minded of ages, we have utterly lost the sense of the symbolic that such a national memorializing at once embodies and expresses.

Now that is chutzpah. Ninety years ago, you gave Canada your living body. Now, you owe us your corpse.

When I read that letter, I didn't assume it captured the national mood: people who write letters to the editor (like bloggers) are well-known to be cranks. But I expected someone to write an outraged letter in response. None appeared. That bothers me. Either no Canadian wants to battle patriotic correctness, doesn't want to be seen as opposing any and all forms of veneration of veterans (what's the upside?) ... or that letter really does represent the national mood.



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