Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

Remembering veterans has more significance in Canada

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Originally published on on Tue, 11/13/2007 – 11:35am

I happened to spend Veterans Day in Canada this year. Well, they don’t call it Veterans Day; they call it Remembrance Day. It’s the same concept, but it seemed to me that Canada celebrates the day in a whole different manner.

And I wasn’t even that far into Canada, a mile or two (three kilometers), over in Windsor, Ontario, across the Detroit River from Detroit, Michigan. But it was a completely different world when it came to remembering the sacrifices made by veterans in wartime.

Everywhere I looked, people were wearing poppies on their coats to honor the veterans. The anchors on Hockey Night in Canada wore poppies. The news anchors on CTV wore poppies.

There was extensive coverage on television, radio, and in the newspapers devoted to Remembrance Day. There was even live coverage of Remembrance Day services on CBC television. I’ve never seen anything like that in the United States. The CFL football playoffs were delayed for an hour in honor of the day. Could you imagine an NFL kickoff being delayed 5 minutes for Veterans Day?

I saw a good-sized procession of veterans and their loved ones marching down the streets of downtown Windsor. People stopped to observe. It was really cool to see.

CBC Radio ran a program devoted to how Canadians observe Remembrance Day. They spoke of the great sacrifices from the French and Indian war all the way down to the troops currently serving in Afghanistan. Canadians, who didn’t fight in Iraq nor in Vietnam (despite what Ann Coulter says), have a different perspective on war than Americans.

You would think that a country that has fought in more wars more often than Canada would do more to remember the veterans. And yet Canada gets the idea better than we do and they have fewer wars and troops to remember.

Canada hasn’t been attacked since the War of 1812. The same isn’t true of the United States, whether you count 1941 or 2001.

The poppies were a small sign, but the fact that you could see them everywhere was a nice way of remembering and honoring the sacrifice of those who fought and died for freedom.

The biggest gesture that I can recall seeing in the United States was the long ago episode of WKRP in Cincinnati where Buddy the war veteran bemoans the loss of significance of Veterans Day. He threatens to take himself and Les Nessman down in the plane flying over the city unless there is some sign of caring for Veterans Day. Getting together a parade wasn’t practical, so they settle for getting people to honk their horns at a specific time. The episode came out in 1980, five years after the Vietnam War.

Even though we have a better sense in 2007 of the sacrifices of those who serve than we did in 1980, I still wonder if we could even get people to honk their horns at a specific time. Or wear flowers on our lapels. Or something large and significant.

Buddy thought we had troubles back then. Imagine if Buddy were real and looking at 2007.

All the poppies in the world can’t create better armor or better strategy in Iraq or even better health care at Walter Reed back home. But Veterans Day should mean more than it currently does in the United States. If nothing else, we should being working as hard as Canada does in honoring our veterans.


Written by democracysoup

November 13, 2007 at 11:35 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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