Remembrance Day is always a disturbing day for me.
One of my earliest memories was when I was about 4 and playing at my father’s feet. He was sitting on his bed in his underwear and had his leg exposed. I saw scars on his leg that caught me as being out of the ordinary. It was a reality that I was going to know about one day, so my Dad explained that during WW2 he had been shot in the legs by machine gun fire. There were the holes going in, and the there were the holes coming out the other side. There were 6 holes in all, on the “good leg”, meaning the leg that was saved; the other leg had only one wound, but the bullet had hit and shattered the bone and the doctors had to amputate Dad’s leg.
I didn’t hear the full story of what happened that day, only enough to be horrified that men did things like that to other men. I would in latter years find out that Dad was a Corporal, in charge of 2 other men, and he decided that he would volunteer himself to cross that open field in Germany. 2 German soldiers with machine guns on either end of the field would open fire and shot my father in enemy cross fire and would leave my father in the field for dead. His buddies also left him for dead, seeing his body react to each subsequent bullet that hit him. They thought that surely he was dead and sensibly, they didn’t want to argue with 2 machine guns over a dead man’s body. They would come back the next day to collect the body, only, on their return they found that he was still alive, and that the shock of so many bullets hitting him caused his body to go into shock. The blood stayed near the core so he hadn’t bled to death.
Another day of remembrance was when I was about 17 or 18. My father called me to his room and told me “I am not sure if Canada is going to get embroiled in America’s war in Vietnam, but if we do, I don’t want you to go”. And then he added his most personal of feelings, “ I don’t want a boy of mine going off to die, or lose a leg to fight a rich man’s war”.
I would call my son into a room 20 sum years later and say the same thing to my oldest son concerning the Gulf War.
I am getting to wear young people would call me old, so I have had plenty of time to think about war. And although I don’t want to argue with my father’s beliefs, he having passed away, I see things differently today than I did many years ago. Sure we go to war and Mega Corporations make $Billions. It is alleged that Haliburton made $39.5 Billion during the Iraq War. This was right after Dick Channey had retired as CEO of Haliburton and became America’s Vice President. There is no mention of whether Dick continued to own stocks for Haliburton while he was Vice President. There is the point that my father was making – men getting rich off of war.
My point goes further; sure the rich will always jump in to make big money during a time of war, and it can also be argued that Mega War Contractors will push to get war on the agenda, but the missing part of the equation lets the public off the hook. If nations are pushed into war, it is because the People are so busy not being engaged and informed in politics that we can so easily be pushed into war. It doesn’t take much to push a half thinking public into anything. Our governments can take some of the blame, they like us sleeping, so they promote our inaction.
Take for example, this ridiculous notion that Canadians fighting against Germany won our freedoms. That is mouthed by politician, media and public alike. That would be if there was even a chance that Hitler could have won the war in Europe and then over-ran America and the rest of North America. Hitler didn’t have the manpower to take over Europe and maintain his hold, then how would he have sent all the thousands of boats that he didn’t have with the tens of millions of extra men to take and secure America. But the words so freely roll off the peoples’ lips, “Won our freedom”.
If you want to understand what makes me tick politically, it is this. We must be aware to be free, and I know, intimately, the consequences of not being informed, and engaged, my Dad’s leg, and my having to grow up early to do chores that he was unable to do.
On Remembrance Day I am forced to think about the my memories, and how we could so easily lose our freedom. Our election is over – hasn’t just about everyone got tuckered out by what they see almost as an ordeal. They are already wanting to go back to sleep from thinking.