Tag Archives: veterans

FRINGE 2015 — A Worthy Examination of the True Casualties of War

By Jay Menard,

In life, we fight many battles. Some are physical, others are mental. In Lest We Regret we are presented with a story of casualties of war.

But these casualties extend well beyond the field of battle and into the two characters’ minds, bodies, and souls. Continue reading

White Poppies? Right Message, Wrong Time

By Jay Menard

There is a time and a place for everything. And though you may be married to the idea that a personal protest takes precedence, Remembrance Day is clearly not the time to wear white.

That said, everyone has the right to wear a white poppy — a symbol initially introduced in the 1920s by the No More War Movement in England. It’s now established as a pacifist alternative to the red poppy with the intent to disassociate from the military aspect of the red poppy recognition.

But just because you have the Right doesn’t make it right. Continue reading

The Grinches Who Conscripted Remembrance Day

By Jay Menard

Christmas seems to be offending more and more people just by its very existence. And the latest weapon conscripted into the battle is the honour of our veterans.

To that I say Bah Humbug and how dare you.

To start, I’m not religious, but I use the word Christmas. If that offends you, feel free to substitute the word X-Mas, Saturnalia, Yule, or whatever other term offends you the least. Continue reading

I Remember So I Never Have to Know

By Jason Menard

I wear a poppy and participate in Remembrance Day not as a celebration of war, but as a reminder to learn from its lessons and, hopefully, never repeat them.

I celebrate and memorialize our history so that I never have to know war in reality.

Sadly, our society often forgets those lessons in a rush to fetishise war. We misguidedly conscript military terminology to use in our day-to-day efforts. There are various “Armies,” “Corps,” and “Regiments.”

The organizations will claim they’re fighting for someone; but what’s missing from that statement is the fact that it means they’re in combat against another group. It means we haven’t learned our lessons from war. And in trying to claim these words for our own, we muddle their meaning. Continue reading

A Crisis of Consensus — Lest We Forget

By Jason Menard

On this day, we remember those who came before us and fought for our way of life — our right to exist as Canadians. It is one day that, regardless of one’s political stripe, we come together as a nation under a common belief — to support our veterans.

And it’s an increasingly rare occurrence in this great nation of ours. Continue reading

Veterans’ Memories Another Casualty of War

By Jason Menard

Forget a day off; what we really need on Remembrance Day is a mass-crash course on what it is we’re supposed to remember.

There are glimmers of hope here and there. In the wake of numerous poppy box thefts in Southwestern Ontario, Londoners are stepping up and have more than recouped the lost funds by donating at a local radio station, CJBK – including one man who contributed $500 to the cause. Continue reading

Let Monumental Mistake Go

By Jason Menard

What’s that adage about people in glass houses? Many Canadians are in an apoplectic fit over a few drunken morons who relieved themselves on the national war memorial – but aren’t they just doing physically what we’ve been doing symbolically for years?

Now that the suspects have been identified, average citizens and talking heads will be calling for the maximum punishment that the law will allow. They will be vilified in the court of public opinion and held up as all that’s wrong with the youth of this nation.

People will trot out mantras of respect for the veterans and the actions that they’ve undertaken – and, in a few months, we’ll have forgotten about the incident. And, unfortunately, we’ll have forgotten about our veterans – again.

What these kids did wasn’t an immature expression of political dissent – it was a dumb mistake. And, in fact, I’m willing to forgive both because of the fact that we live in a free country and we have to take the good with the bad.

Is urinating on a monument any more of an affront than burning a flag? Both can be graphic acts of protest and both can be repellant to the majority of Canadians at large. But our veterans didn’t just fight for respect, they fought for our right to speak and express ourselves freely.

And if, as it appears, that this is just a drunken act of foolishness, then I don’t think there’s too many of us who haven’t done something while under the influence that we regret after the fact. Fortunately, for the majority of us, those actions weren’t caught on tape.

We need to get over ourselves. These kids – two 18-year-olds and a 21-year-old – should have known better, but made a mistake. They’re probably terrified and embarrassed and they should simply come forth and make a public apology. Let them make reparations – something like community service or, more appropriately, cleaning out bedpans at a veterans’ hospital – and then let them get on with their lives.

Because, once we move on from them, maybe we’ll take a few moments and take a look at our own actions. The fall is precipitous from this high horse we’ve decided to perch ourselves upon. Yet our behaviour towards veterans, while not as overt, is in many ways just as despicable.

Every November 11 th we pay lip service to our veterans. We wear the poppies and watch the “so-sombre-so-we-must-be-honest” retrospective documentaries about our veterans. And, before the flowers wilt on the cenotaphs and monuments, we promptly shuffle the veterans to the recesses of our mind.

Where does our threshold for disgust lie? To me, a drunken mistake is less offensive than the idiots who disrespect our national anthem during a sporting event to bellow out “Go Team Go.” To me, a foolish action by kids who should have known better is more forgivable than those people who don’t know the lyrics to our national anthem or stand at attention in respectful silence when O Canada is being played.

In fact, I attended a junior hockey game around Remembrance Day last year where a couple of our few remaining veterans were being honoured. In what could have been a touching ceremony, some idiot was unable to quell his Neanderthal urges and decided to use a quiet part of the anthem to make a grab for his 15 seconds of fame, shouting out “Go Knights Go!”

Now tell me how that’s any more respectful? Tell me how a conscious decision to disrespect the song that represents this country – the song that represents the country that these veterans fought for – shouldn’t be held in less regard than what these kids did?

To me the issue is clear. In general, we don’t treat our veterans with the respect they deserve. We trot them out, in ever dwindling numbers, every November as a panacea to our guilty consciences. And then we shuffle them off again to be called upon when it’s time to make ourselves look good.

How many of us go and visit veterans during the rest of the year? How many of us pay the proper respect at our cenotaphs and monuments? How many of us ensure our children are aware of the sacrifices and efforts that their grandparents and great-grandparents made so that we could have the opportunity to enjoy the life we do today? How many of us make sure that the horrors that these veterans faced are never forgotten by passing down the memories to future generations?

Sadly, not enough. As a society, we love to make big shows of our faith – naming streets or highways after veterans, having big ceremonies on Remembrance Day. But it’s not the big displays that matter – it’s the little efforts we take each and every day that really count. And it’s those efforts that a significant number of us don’t do enough of.

So let’s lay off these kids, who obviously made an egregious mistake. After all, we’ve been pissing on the veterans for years ourselves.

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