March 23, 2009

This so-called "ridiculous" country IS at war

If you know me at all, you'll know I'm an old tie-dyed in the wool hippie dippy pacifist, but this makes my blood boil. Part of me says, "It's Fox News, who really gives a crap?", but the rest of me is still reeling from our latest casualties in this war Canada is supposedly not even involved in.

Tell that to the families of the 116 people killed in Afghanistan since 2002, the largest number of fatalities for any single Canadian military mission since the Korean War.

And, according to my research, we have the third-highest number of deaths in Afghanistan, behind the US with 595 (did you know it was that high?) and the UK, which has lost 152 soldiers. That's one hell of a lot of families being torn apart. I don't care how you feel about war, there's no getting away from the massive impact this has had on the world at large.

Speaking of that astounding number of US deaths, here's a good chance to clear up what may be a misconception. Is there any media coverage down there about the casualties? I'm curious as we've been told up here that it's swept under the carpet and not even mentioned on the news, unlike here:

This was the lead story on my local news (CityTV, no clips available), as every death is. And, because of this massive media coverage, you can't help but be moved (and angered) by the stories and pictures of these bright, shining faces and their grieving loved ones. You connect with them all, feel their pain, maybe even shed a tear for their loss. Every single one of those 116 lives has touched us, as it should. How sad to think nearly 600 of their own people have died with nary a mention on the US news.

The clip mentioned something that's become an unfortunate tradition around here, the crowds of people saluting the processions of dead soldiers along the Highway Of Heroes.

When the bodies of our fallen soldiers are returned to Canada, they arrive at Trenton Air Base, then the flag-draped coffins are loaded into the hearses and driven here to Toronto for the official autopsies. Along the 401 highway, crowds began to spontaneously gather on the overpasses along the route with their Canadian flags and hand-painted signs, saluting the coffins as they passed. In September, 2007, thanks in part to a massive online petition (about 20,000 signatures) and public outcry, the stretch was renamed the Highway Of Heroes.

Here's a fantastic video tribute to give you some idea of what Canada's been doing in this war and how this country feels about our brave men and women (set to the tune of AC/DC's "For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)" and "Amazing Grace"):

How's that for patriotism, eh? Check your pulse if you didn't tear up.

My stepfather, Mum's Ray, a very proud member of the Brighton Legion, dressed in his full uniform and made the trek many times to stand on one of those overpasses and salute his comrades. This latest slur on our Canadian military must have him spinning.

Canada and the US have always had a precarious friendship. Some are probably still pretty ticked at us for burning down the White House (we were part of the British Empire then and still have the Queen on our money), but it hasn't always been doom and gloom from the US media. Just this past Remembrance Day, in fact, NBC showed this tribute to the Highway Of Heroes:

Such a pity other American media pundits apparently didn't see it.

I see where one of the comedians on the show in question, Doug Benson, who quipped about not knowing Canada even had troops in Afghanistan, ("I thought that's where you go if you don't want to fight.", a ref to the Vietnam draft dodgers) has been forced to cancel some upcoming gigs in Edmonton, Alberta. The hundreds of phone calls and threatening e-mails were probably a factor, but I'm pretty sure the fine folks at CFB Edmonton had something to say about it, too. You can't trash this country and expect to make money off us at the same time, it just doesn't work like that.

I'm the last one to root for war, but you bet your sweet bippy I salute our troops and all the sacrifices they've made in the name of freedom. Make all the jokes you want about our accents, our never-ending snow, even our "funny money" if you like, we'll probably laugh just as loud as you do. But, how dare you laugh off this country's war effort and all the lives we've lost to *your* war.

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