Friday, February 5, 2010

For My Democracy Today I am Paying Homage to a Hero

My father was a veteran of the second world war. My grandfather fought in the first for England, and while he didn't die in battle; he suffered horribly from the effects of mustard gas, and died of lung infection not long after returning home.

My dad rarely talked about his experiences in the war. Letters to his sister found after he passed, where he speaks of the sounds of gunfire echoing in the night; give some sense of his fear, but for the most part, his messages were positive.

In one letter, trying to reassure her, he reminds her of a little prayer their father had taught them, and said that she should repeat that, when she's having trouble sleeping.

However, one of the the most vivid memories I have of him, was when I was a teenager and he had just called into a local radio station, complaining of an arbitrary decision made by the government. I whined that I would now be embarrassed to go to school if my friends had heard him (teenage drama you know).

But he reminded me that the fight for democracy did not end on the battlefields, but was something you had to fight for everyday.

It didn't mean much then, but it resonates now.

The only way we can get this destructive government out of office, is to get people to vote. Apathy is responsible for their success, and ending apathy is crucial to to the success of our nation.

The other day, one of our CAPP members, Martin Peterson; stated that he was now becoming politically active in honour of an uncle who had died at Normandy. That is such a compelling statement, and inspired me to continue on a theme I had considered several months ago, even before Harper's latest power grab.

We honour our veterans, troops and fallen soldiers on Remembrance Day, with a message 'Lest we Forget'. Why not also honour them on election day, with a message of 'We Remember'?

Poppies could be sold, giving the legions a bit of extra income, and our campaign would not be partisan, but simply a fight for Canadian democracy.

I think I'm going to create some posters or flyers, with this theme. Most of us have someone in our family who is either fighting for democracy now in Afghanistan, or has fought in previous wars. Maybe we can carry a photo or keepsake, and let others know who we are really voting for.

Not the candidate but the person we will be paying homage to.

I will be voting for my father, my grandfather and a great uncle who died 'somewhere in France'. Who will you be voting for?


  1. Like you, I had a grandfather who was in the trenches in the First World War. My father was hardly moore than a kid, just 17 1/2 when he was flying as aircrew in the Battle of Britain, bombing the barges Hitler was amassing for the invasion of England. Both men would be ashamed of what has become of this country under the Harper regime. He has betrayed the deepest ideals of freedom and justice they were fighting to protect.

  2. Thank you for this, Emily. Especially after yesterday, when I kept hearing Cons using the tired old saw (repeat, repeat, repeat) that we "don't support the troops" - their new/old talking point again. We fight this anti-Canadian government & its attacks on our country not only in honour of your uncle & all those who fought for us, but also in honour of democracy - as those soldiers did and would do. Really important new way of framing I think.

  3. I put on my poppy for the CAPP Rally, and then afterwards, I decided to leave it on until we bring our troops home from Afghanistan. Good work today Emily, as always. I don't always comment, but I read you just about every day.

  4. My grandfather enrolled at the age of 17 because he wanted to see the world and learn English. His widowed mother was furious. He became the first fluently bilingual person in the family. He was wounded in Passchendaele, Belgium (the blast from a shell tore one of his eardrums). Whenever I hear Chris de Burgh's This Song for You, I think of him.

  5. See also

  6. please re-post this every remembrance day......

    such a good point...our friends and famly have risked their lives and some have lost their lives and we cant be bothered to vote .....
    my nephew was in the friendly fire attack in afghanistan...PTS for husbands father and grandfather were in concentration camps and his grandfather killed in the gas chambers. His parents came to canada for a better life ..i would guess that not one of his family members votes...that's another angle on the same message, how many of our families started off in canada because of it's democracy and looking for a better life....yet many dont bother...

    Emily you are awesome....!! you make me think.

  7. Thank you Maureen and thanks for sharing your story. I probably should repost this in light of the way that the Harper government is now treating our veterans.