World War One defined Canada as a nation. In the hundred years that have followed, how far have we come?
Canada is one of the most civilized and livable countries in the word. Our social policies are progressive and our economy is sound. Our people live together, a multitude of diverse peoples united by our loathing of mosquitos and minus forty degree weather (fortunately not normally at the same time).
Yet we are faced with war from within and without. The Ukrainian situation threatens to escalate into a new world war. We are flying CF-18 fighter-bombers against ISIS terrorists overseas. Our soldiers are being attacked on home soil.
Today is Remembrance Day. There was the largest crowd I have ever seen at the cenotaph this year, easily twice as many people as last year. Citizens want to honour our veterans, and what they have sacrificed to make Canada great.
While our government officials seem keen to be photographed attending these ceremonies, I find it hard to believe that they are moved by all of the fine words and honest sentiments. Veterans' benefits have been consolidated and then cut. Yes, this creates a greater efficiency at government offices, but the throttling of funds to our soldiers and protectors serves only to help the financial picture, but not the societal one. The efforts Canada expends in post-millennial warfare has created a new, large group of veterans, many who need immediate social assistance: medical aid, psychiatric aid, and support in civilian life. Certainly we owe the veterans this much.
The CBC has reported that now more deaths among Afghanistan vets occur through suicide at home than did occur on that faraway battlefield.
The Minister for Veteran's Affairs, The Honourable Julian Fantino, was booed when he showed up for a veterans' salute at BC Place. Let's be fair, though, Veteran's Affairs is a Ministry under siege, and although Mr. Fantino does not present himself well in public, he does maintain a responsible attitude in a service that is being bled of its funding.
We citizens can complain, as much good as that will do, or we can help. The Royal Canadian Legion is Canada's largest non-profit organization serving veterans. Money donated to the Legion goes directly to helping the vets who sacrificed their bodies, in effect helping those who have served us so well. The Legion also accepts membership from the public, and is a fine way to support the veterans' community. The government can send our men and women, brothers, sisters, friends and family into harm's way. We can choose to bring them back with dignity.
All elements in this graphic were made with public domain images from Wikipedia.