Baxter Black: Veterans Day
Last Nov. 11, I was in Red Deer, Alberta during Remembrance Day. It coincided with Veterans Day in the U.S., Remembrance Day in Australia and also in England. This day is singled out to honor all the men and women who have served in the armed forces of these countries.
Other countries also honor their soldiers, but this Anglican relationship between Mother England and we three colonies is special. We have much in common. To wit, we speak English as the national language and have a compatible culture. In the 20th century we have joined against a common enemy, and we all liked the Beatles and James Bond!
I think of us in a familial way. We are siblings begat by Mother England. Canada remains the closest to Mother. The first time I gave a speech in Canada, I was in the Hotel Saskatchewan. The Queen’s picture was prominently displayed over my left shoulder and Prince Phillip’s over my right. I stood a little straighter! The Canadians affection and respect for royalty is apparent.
The U.S. represents the child who ran away and became successful. He came back and they took him in, but it has always been a more formal relationship. Instead of pictures of the Queen, we are more likely to have posters of Princess Di next to Michael Jackson. I mean, we still send Christmas cards but no whoopee cushions or cow-pie penholders are exchanged.
Australia is the resentful but dependent child. They had parental problems in their youth. Mother did not spare the rod. Australia is like the kid who had no interest in college, politics or business. They like the beach. But they are loyal and steadfast to the British tradition, in sports, tea parties and eating organ meats. They are a lot more fun at the reunion than the dogmatic Americans or the pompous Brits.
We three countries share a common bond. We bicker and point fingers at each other. We each think we know best when it comes to manners, sports and how to enjoy life. But like most families that fight at home amongst ourselves, we are quick to get our back up when an outsider dares to pick on one of our own! The picker soon finds we can be a formidable foe. This protective response extends to Mother England, as well, particularly since she is showing signs of old age.
We have other similar traits between us; a frontier in the west, oceans on both sides, a constitutional tolerance for free speech, protest and the welcoming of legal immigrants.
On Veterans Day, Canada, England, Australia and the U.S. all recognize that in the 20th century, war turned the world on its head. We held hands and surrounded Mother England and were the major force that held the enemies at bay.
Today our combined influence, power, and place in the world is in large part the result of millions of individuals who served in the military; the Veterans. They are descendents of Great Britain, strengthened by the infusion of the Quebecois, Sikhs, Ukrainians, Latinos, Irish, Oriental, African, Jewish, Asian, Native… a rainbow of patriots who have assimilated, and help us guard our shores. We watch each other’s backs, help each other up, and believe in the unbelievable… that each man has a right to be free.