Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Standing on Guard

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Standing on Guard

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: Standing on guard

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An editorial from the Prince George Citizen, published Nov. 8:

There was once a worry that Remembrance Day ceremonies would die out and disappear - the idea being that as the veterans from the Second World War passed away, natural-born Canadians would become increasingly separated from their military past and new immigrants wouldn't care about Vimy Ridge and Dieppe.

Many people thought Prime Minister Stephen Harper's insistence on returning the word Royal in front of the official names of the Canadian armed forces, passionately marking the bicentennial of the War of 1812 and increasing federal spending on the military for the first time in decades was political pandering to traditionalists. Instead, it's now clear that Harper was slightly ahead of the curve and saw the approaching wave of new popularity for Canada's military history and the men and women who currently wear the uniform.

Former Governor-General Michaelle Jean recognized it, too, which is why she wore the formal green Canadian Forces uniform with Prince Charles to the Remembrance Day ceremonies at the cenotaph in Ottawa in 2009. It was the third time Jean had donned her military uniform (the word "general" is in the job description for a reason - the Governor-General is the official commander-in-chief of the Canadian Armed Forces) but it was the first time a Governor General had worn it on Remembrance Day in 25 years.

She was praised across the country for her proud tribute to past veterans, as well as to the Canadians still serving at the time in Afghanistan (she had worn her uniform when she visited them two months earlier).

And that was from an immigrant from Haiti.

Afghanistan has certainly played a role in reinvigorating Remembrance Day in Canada. In the earlier days of the Afghan conflict, the federal government tried to hide the caskets draped in the Maple Leaf that were coming home. They quickly realized that the uproar wasn't about Canadians dying needlessly in a stupid war on the other side of the world but about the government not letting the public pay its respects. Canadians may have questioned the length and the cost of the Afghan mission but even the most dovish and anti-war residents understood that after 9-11, Afghanistan needed more than a hug and rousing version of "Give Peace A Chance. …

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