Wednesday, December 22, 2004

To See the Ensign Flying High

To see the Ensign flying high,
fills me with something, I know not why.
It is a feeling deep inside;
I think they call that feeling pride.

It flew through three wars true to call,
but now at last it's going to fall.
They'll take it down without a thought;
the Canadian flag for which we fought.

by John the Mad
written in Grade Nine, in 1964-65 during the flag debate, probably when I was supposed to be conjugating latin verbs (a subject which I failed, ... mea maxima culpa), at St. Patrick's College High School in Ottawa. There is a third verse which, tragically, has been lost to Western civilization due to brain cell destruction, likely caused by quaffing too much ale at university.

Damian Brooks, of Babbling Brooks fame, recently posted a far more eloquent recruit's first post to the brigade and to the world. I cannot match him, so I'll content myself with a few observations, which I hope will suffice. I want first to address a slander against the Ensign and, by implication, an untruth against the brigade itself.

The Canadian Red Ensign does not belong to racist extremists, as some have been asserting on the web. It has a past steeped in freedom and democracy and deserves a better legacy than any evil to which modern racists have subjected it. It was the symbol of our country when Canada was emerging from its colonial past to its splendid place among the nations of the world. If wicked men and women misuse this ensign today it is to their great and added shame.

My two grandfathers, my father, an uncle and father-in-law, all went to war under the Red Ensign. All but my father served our nation in the army. My dad served as a sergeant air gunner in the Royal Canadian Air Force. My paternal grandfather served at Vimy Ridge. My father-in-law served in the 48th Highlanders throughout Sicily and Italy. I even have a forebear (on my mother's side) who served with Wolfe in the battle of the Plains of Abraham. Of course, that predated the Red Ensign.

They pledged, through their voluntary service to Canada, to fight and die for her. Fortunately, they all survived their wars, although my uncle left his right leg in Holland. These men (for they were men for a' that) are all now deceased or, as we Christians believe, they are all now with Christ. At the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember them.

The Red Ensign went with them to those wars and if evil men are misusing this flag today they would demand that it be recalled to honourable service. So in hoisting the flag on my site I am doing my part to ensure that the Ensign remains in honourable service. I assure you I do not love our national flag less.

My reasons for applying to join the Red Ensign Brigade are many and varied. During my life time I have watched a succession of governments squander the opportunities handed to them by previous generations. Accordingly, in Canada today we have low expectations of our national government and of our place in the world. We were bequeathed better by better people than those who serve us now.

At one time Canadians played the great game above our weight. We believed that together we could make a difference for good in world affairs. We undertook our international obligations seriously and were prepared to pay the cost in treasure or, where necessary, in lives.

Our nation today is still an exciting and vibrant place to live and work. It is a changed place from my grandfathers' and father's day, with many new nationalities and religions struggling to make a place for themselves under the maple leaf flag. This is a very good thing. I find it exhilarating, for the most part.

But let us not forget our traditions as we move forward. These traditions speak to us of sacrifice, honour, patriotism, hard work and respect for our neighbours and the rule of law. Canada is one of the oldest democracies in the world, yet we are not yet a society set in stone.

I sense in the Red Ensign brigade a frustration with the pettiness in contemporary government and the shrivelled aspirations to which we as a people have foolishly consented. Worse yet, many of us have joined with Europe and a goodly portion of the United States in embracing a cult of death (and I am not writing here of the war in Iraq, or the war against Islamic terrorists). We in the brigade don't agree on everything, but we are open to good and honest debate. Such is the very stuff of democracy.

So hoist high the Red Ensign and remember what it really represents.

-----------------------------------------

Thanks, are due to Raging Kraut and Babbling Brooks for their time and assistance in getting this flag onto my sidebar. What a great band of bloggers.

5 Comments:

At 10:41 PM, December 22, 2004 , Blogger Andrew said...

Welcome aboard - and very well stated.

 
At 1:13 AM, December 23, 2004 , Blogger Rebecca said...

Welcome aboard, John - and I appreciated the intro. I love hearing of families who wear their military service with pride, because it is a service to all of us.

Looking forward to reading more!

 
At 6:23 AM, December 23, 2004 , Blogger Kateland, aka TZH said...

Ahoy and Welcome Aboard! - did they warn you about our obscure hazing rituals or explain the secret handshake?

 
At 10:58 AM, December 23, 2004 , Blogger Babbling Brooks said...

Well said, John, and I'll echo my fellow Brigade members by saying welcome aboard. (Now that I've posted my welcome, the next step in the induction ritual is for Nicholas at Quotulatiousness to hit you up for a beer. Wait for it.)

 
At 11:27 AM, December 23, 2004 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

The sad and cynical part in replacing the Red Ensign was the Liberal party, the government of the day, using Liberal red as the border of the new flag instead of a much more logical, and appealing, blue - "from sea to shining sea".
When the historians of the future take a look at the way Canada was governed after the Second World War they'll wonder how the politicians were allowed to get away with it.
The government that governs least, governs best.

 

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