"Be yours to hold it high..."
My parents split up when I was six years old, and each remarried. For years, I've looked for silver linings to that dark cloud of divorce, with only sporadic success. Recently I've thought quite a bit about one backhanded blessing I discovered early-on: my parents' breakup allowed me to have more than the standard-issue two sets of grandparents.
I have three Grandfathers who served Canada under the Red Ensign I fly on this site today. Each married a woman of unquestionable character and spirit, and while I speak now about my grandfathers, let there be no doubt of my respect and admiration for my grandmothers. I am very proud of all three men as patriarchs of their families, as contributing members of their communities, and as survivors of 'everyday' hardships I can barely comprehend. But today I focus on the pride I feel for each of them as Canadian patriots.
One is an immigrant, a man who raised himself from exceptionally humble beginnings on a strip of rock and sand in the Carribean to serve as an officer in the Royal Canadian Air Force. Marvin Darville flew as an Air Navigator in Korea, on gruelling anti-submarine missions over the Atlantic during the tensest moments of the Cold War, and retired after three decades of military service to his adopted country.
One can trace his lineage in Canada back to 1818, and a hard-working farmer in Valcartier, QC. Arnold Brooks saw first-hand the results of war when his brother Clarence came home in a wheelchair. He still signed up as a Navigator in WWII, and flew in Lancasters out of England. These sorties over occupied Europe were harrowing enough that to this day, he will not speak of them. Returning home after the war, my grandfather joined the Post Office, where he continued to represent Canada internationally.
One recently passed away, after eighty honest and successful years on this Earth. Robert Bergey served in ambulances in the brutal Italian campaign of 1944. He returned home to earn an engineering degree, and remained deeply involved in his Peterborough community until his passing.
Wendy and Marvin, Joyce and Arnold, Marlyn and Bob - these are the ordinary Canadians I think of when I look at the Red Ensign. These are the everyday heroes whose work, whose sacrifice, whose legacy I honour by flying that old flag here. My grandparents, and millions of other Canadians like them.
Those who see some antipathy towards today's Canada in my respect for the Canada of days-past misread me. I love my country, and I wouldn't live anywhere else. I belt out the anthem at every opportunity, and my three year-old Boo already knows you always cheer for the team in Red and White ("Is Canada winning, Daddy?" "Yeah, little buddy, that's why Daddy's jumping up and down screaming at the TV."). I've seen my country east to west, north to south; urban, rural, and wilderness. I've watched the salmon run in Goldstream Provincial Park in Victoria, BC, and hiked four days from Halifax to Greenwood, NS on a dare. I've served my country, briefly and certainly without the distinction of my grandfathers, in uniform, and saluted our flag with tears in my eyes. I've screamed myself hoarse at the annual incarnation of the oldest international hockey rivalry in the world: RMC vs. West Point. I've even sacrificed time, energy, and money in a political campaign in the firm belief we should all participate in the process of governing ourselves. I'm comfortable calling myself a Canadian patriot.
But that doesn't mean I'm satisfied with a snapshot of Canada as it is now any more than my grandparents would have been with a freeze-frame of the Canada they inherited. It doesn't mean this great nation can't become greater. And it certainly doesn't mean today's Canadians can afford to sit back on our laurels and announce arrogantly that we're somehow fated to enjoy the freedom and prosperity we had such a small historical part in creating.
I've struggled to explain to friends and family curious about my foray into the blogosphere what binds the disparate blogs of the Red Ensign Brigade together. The closest answer I can give is that we share strong feelings about the importance of Canada's past in charting our nation's future. We share a conviction that Canadian freedom and prosperity are not a birthright bestowed upon a lucky citizenry, but rather a reward for action consistent with longstanding Canadian values.
We've taken the Red Ensign flag as our symbol because we understand that while Canada has improved in many ways since the adoption of the new Maple Leaf, it has also disregarded some of what made it great in generations past. I'm not saying our country under the Ensign was perfect, or even close to it. The residential schools, the Japanese-Canadian internment camps, the schism over conscription - all occurred under our beloved Red Ensign as well. But that flag hearkens back to a time when Canada did more than it talked, both at home and abroad. Our 21st century Canada needs some of the old-time spirit in the national character as well. By all means, let's remember both the good and the bad of our history, the better to avoid its mistakes and build on its successes.
John McCrae wrote: "To you from failing hands we throw The torch, be yours to hold it high." This generation of Canadians stands on the shoulders of generations such as my grandparents'. We have been thrown the Canadian torch - are we holding it as high as we can?
With that, I give you the eleventh edition of The Red Ensign Standard.
'Tis the season, and Ith at Absinthe & Cookies sure knows it. Best of luck with the Jimmy, Ith.
Paul at All Agitprop, All the Time... sees idiots downrange, and proceeds to ripple off some electronic full metal jacket. First to feel his words in their own personal X-ring are the Montreal public service union, then the federal Liberals, and finally the hapless rebels in Iraq - be warned, the gunman actually takes the brunt of a little more than Paul's wit. Wait a minute...unions, Liberals, and lawless Islamofascists...if you've ever read Paul, you know that's not even sporting.
Don at All Things Canadian... renews my faith in my fellow hosers by focusing on what's really important in the world: the hockey lockout. Now if only we could put him in a room with Bettman and Goodenow and send in the team trainers to patch them up when he was done.
DirtCrashr at Anthroblogology scatters shots about a Mexican vacation, and thoughts about working in silence.
How the hell do you sum up two weeks of John's work at Argghhh! with a couple of lousy links? It's like trying to build a likeness of Marilyn Monroe with two popsicle sticks and a drinking straw - the tools aren't up to the task. The Armorer (notice I got the 'Mericun spelling right this time, John!) remembers veterans young and old, celebrates his fourth-place finish in the Military Blog category of the 2004 Weblog Awards with typical humility and class, and encourages us all to give to a great cause. Oh, and there's some military pr0n too!
Andrew at Bound By Gravity takes note of a very special event that received little of the fanfare it deserved, and a horrible state of affairs that also seemed to skip across the public consciousness without penetrating. One of the fascinating things about BBG is Andrew's ability to reach across the Canadian political spectrum - but trying to forge a compromise on SSM might have been a reach even for him. I'm also going to highlight this little post partly because I'm a petty and vindictive man who bears grudges, but mostly because Andrew's dead right.
Huck at BumfOnline takes a couple of stabs at the SSM tempest, but I'm partial to his snarkier work from the past two weeks: pointing to the hypocrisy of the Canadian position on Libya (and Iran, and China, and...), and the sheer stupidity of taking political advice from celebrities.
Dana at Canadian Comment speculates on the violence of the left, and points out an exceptional quote. But leave it to
The Candepundit remains on sabbatical.
Chris at ChrisCam extols the benefits of using two whole cows to make a burger - one of the main ones being it scares European-girlie-men. He then changes tack entirely, and posts a heartwarming personal story about a chance meeting in Arlington, VA.
Rebecca at Doxology does something I find very difficult - a long, courageous, intensely personal post about family and faith. She says she's much more "down-home than political." I say go with what works for you, and that long post worked.
Darcey at DustMyBroom confronts the prospect of a killer you can't keep locked up any more, and provides Liberals with their next
James at Hammer Into Anvil gets passionate about investments. Of course, as a guy who sells insurance for a living, I object heartily to his derogatory comment about my noble profession. James, I stick my tongue out at you. Mend your ways, lest you get the full raspberry treatment next time.
John at Hypothesis.ca, like Huck, is into guitars. He's also itching to study law. If he joins the Liberal party and starts writing books about punk bands, he's off the blogroll.
Glenda at Just Between Us Girls seems to have temporarily flown the coop.
Keith at Minority of One, still adjusting the blog schedule to accomodate full-time single-parenthood, draws lines between Liberals and organized crime. Specifically, he draws two horizontal lines parallel with each other, like this = . He also posts a picture of Frankenstein and a quote from a real monster.
Jason at Musing knots his own knickers over continued funding for the
Dr. Funk at Musings of a Canadian Slacker remains true to his title with all of two posts in two weeks. Careful criticizing Wells, though, or he'll call you a stalker.
Myrick at...uh...Myrick brings us typically Eastern-exotic news of pirates, Singapore home brew, and challenges to Canadian sovereignty. He also lets us know he's up for one of the 2004 Asia Blog Awards. We sure are a
Nathan of Nathan's Updates from Seoul fame holds forth on the special joys of international pecuniary serendipity. Remember, that which does not kill me...can probably be used - with a little imagination - to kill the bastards that sent it my way in the first place. Breathe deeply, Nathan.
Curt of North Western Winds doesn't generally post stuff to which I would respond ROTFLMAO. Normally, he writes thoughtful and serious pieces that go right over my puny and inadequate little head. But Curt defies my expectations with this post-election joke that had me - you guessed it - ROTFLMAO. (Although my wife tells me my A is still on.)
Alan at Occam's Carbuncle says what I wish I could more often than my poor, fragile ego can take. Feeling completely inadequate, I refer you to his caustic wisdom. Freedom vs. peace - read it. Official bilingualism vs. thinking adults - read it. Post-election Dalton McWeasel vs. Pre-election Dalton McTrustme - read it.
Nicholas (see, I listen, Nick - D'OH!) of Quotulatiousness expresses my own dark thoughts on retirement planning, and continues on gamely with his robust and full-bodied wine theme (with just a hint of citrus). Still, the best reason to read this blog, as always, is the choice of quotes.
Ray at Raging Kraut posts
Paul at Ravishing Light provides us with his own unique perspective on the "Feast of Secular Goodwill and Economy-Sustaining Consumption." And a merry one to you too. Speaking of which, I was made merry by the thought of El Presidente choking on one of his trademark flammable phallic symbols - what exactly might he be compensating for? Finally, I suggest that any moniker that rhymes with "Israeli" will become a street name in Ottawa shortly after Beelzebub is seen doing triple-axels on the Canal on Christmas Day.
Rightjab is currently down for the count.
Jay Random at Shiny Happy Gulag seems to be somewhere east of Siberia without web-access.
Stephen Taylor seems to be taking the same break his namesake and party leader did this summer after the election. Please don't disappear too long, Mr.
The original Taylor at Taylor & Company waxes philosophical about ballet and fine spirits. I'm with you, Chris: to hell with all inauthentic swans and government monopolies!
Jay at The Freeway to Serfdom has a mischievous idea on taxation - unfortunately it would mean the end of the Canadian military. Still, there's the grovelling... And it wouldn't be The Freeway if we didn't have a post about libertarian traffic utopia.
Thomas at The Green Baron is preoccupied with leaving green for other employment. He takes time out, however, to add his voice to the chorus of reasonable people on both sides of the longest undefended border in the world calling for an end to the current cow-madness.
Kate at The Last Amazon vents her ongoing disgust for the contemptible deserter, tells us about why she joined the Fighting Fusileers, and steps into Paul's turf by going off on Quebec labour laws.
The London Fog isn't just a blog - it publishes long-lost comics as well. Maybe I don't know these folks well enough to know if they're kidding about this, and maybe I already know them too well. Either way, it's the spookiest commentary on SSM I've read. On a more serious note...wait a minute...those crazy kids!
The Monger extols the long-term health benefits of swallowing your medicine, of not getting sick, and of taking deep cleansing breaths when confronted with breathtaking stupidity. Prescription filled.
The Urban Possum at The Phantom Observer gives his opinions on SSM and Peter Jackson...but not in the same post. Thank the Lord (of the Rings) for small blessings.
Ben at The Tiger in Winter is probably best known in the blogosphere for his ability to apply an unquestioned intellect to difficult issues. I'd like to dig a little deeper, and show you the true nature of the man.
Between lighting each candle on a menorah, Tipper at Tipperography blogs about school standards and the electorate. She also puts forth some really heady stuff here, and simplifies to the point where I begin to understand it here. It's somewhat disquieting to know Curt has a female doppleganger somewhere in Indiana.
Kevin at Trudeaupia addresses the delicate issue of the delicacy of the issue of racism and immigration, he commemorates the lowering of the Red Ensign, and he tries his hand at travel writing. I'm not kidding when I tell you I've had heart surgery that was less stressful.
During a brief respite from having his body fall completely to pieces on him (chicken soup and cod liver oil, my boy - that's the ticket), Temujin at West Coast Chaos draws our attention to a good landing (that's aviator code for one you can walk away from), and pokes fun at big, full, perfect...profits.
By the way, is Alan at Gen-X at 40 in the Brigade any more, or has he tired of us right-of-centre knuckle-dragging crazies? He still has the fish-ensign up, but he's not on the roll. Ah, well, go visit him for a beer.
Finally, on behalf of the Brigade, I'd like to dedicate this edition of The Red Ensign Standard to Nicholas Packwood. Thanks.