Saturday, December 18, 2004

"Be yours to hold it high..."

Babble on.

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 her male his counterpart Bob to talk about the super-duper important stuff: nudity in red-potato-land. (Babbler's note: Idiot With A Keyboard that I am, I've always assumed Dana was a girl. Not so, says he himself in the comments to this thread. Correction made, with contrite apologies.)

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 money pit weapons-registration project. On a serious note, luck and best wishes to Grama Connie.

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, 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 money pit long-gun registry. It's still a Librano government, Hayz. Didn't you know, that guns kill people? It's still Christmas, too, and so much the better. And since I can't figure out any clever segue, I'll just link to this heartening piece.

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 nominal nominated bunch.

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 lustful wistful reminiscences of blogging from work, and also says something about charity that should be mandatory reading for anyone thinking of canvassing door-to-door.

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. Harper Taylor.

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.

Babble off.


At 9:13 p.m., Blogger The Tiger said...


Good job, Damian!

I have done an awful lot of quizzes lately, haven't I? Ah well, they're fun.

At 9:42 p.m., Blogger Rob Huck said...

Yep, terrific job, Damian. Thanks a lot.

At 10:52 p.m., Blogger Rebecca said...

Really great job! I appreciated the alpha-listing too - helps to keep everyone straight now that the blogroll is getting longish. I'm off for two weeks vacation starting tomorrow so I may actually get a chance to read most of these posts for a change. Thanks for the excellent roundup.

At 10:58 p.m., Blogger darcey said...

I'm glad to see "centre" - leaves a warm feeling in my belly! Good job! -> Hard to piece together this much info.

At 9:19 a.m., Blogger Andrew said...

Awesome job Damian. Your intro was amazing - you've certainly raised the bar!

At 11:13 a.m., Blogger John of Argghhh! said...

My golly, what hath I wrought?

Man, that's some serious linkage, compared to my first one that started this...

I'm remiss in linking to it - no email nor trackbacks... but you started showing up in the logs.

Well done, dude!

At 11:48 a.m., Blogger John said...

Did you mention ?

The Econolast is the pseudonym of a witty and eccentric economist in London Ontario who blogs on everything from the Hajj to Hockey and manages it find a Canadian angle for many of his postings.

At 11:49 a.m., Blogger VW said...

Excellent job, Damian! And you've made the Instapundit site again!


At 12:21 p.m., Blogger Ith said...

Thanks! The truck seems to be behaving [knock wood]

At 12:45 p.m., Blogger Gordon Pasha said...

Thanks Damian, Merry Xmas and all that!

At 12:52 p.m., Blogger MisterPundit said...

Great job. Followed the link via InstaPundit. It's wonderful to see so many Canadian bloggers out there. Feel free to stop by my blog too and tell me what you think :

I only just started the blog, but things should be rolling soon.

At 1:18 p.m., Blogger Alan said...

I did ask to go off the list during the transition and then forgot about it as I got all absorbed with the beer blog. Do you guys still need a center-leftist pro-human-rights pro-Charter pro-immigration pro-gun registry pro-social-welfare otherwise-libertarian who likes the fish on the 1867 flag?

You know, I still have not gotten Kateland her tee for winning the election pool so keeping me around will allow her to hunt me down [for the picture of that same fish.]


At 1:40 p.m., Blogger Myrick said...

Thanks for the great linkage Damian.
Oh, personally I welcome Alan being a Brigader (good beer ALWAYS beats bad politics).
Though, Alan, it is kinda weird that you would be have to be "asked" to re-join after you quit. Jeez.

At 1:41 p.m., Blogger Alan said...

"We have been thrown the Canadian torch - are we holding it as high as we can?"

Tear to a glass eye, Damian. Great stuff.

Occam's Carbuncle

At 1:56 p.m., Blogger Alan said...

My shame entirely, Myrick. Besides - it's that flurry of beerblog posts from Singapore that's keeping me busy. Maybe I get stripped of my rank or something like that.

Alan of GenX40
Ditto of Le Blogge du Bieres

At 2:05 p.m., Blogger John of Argghhh! said...

Alan, one simply can't resist this question... do you support the concept of the registration scheme, or are you all about supporting the current horrible mess of a abysmally-managed bad idea currently in place?

At 2:05 p.m., Blogger Nathan said...

Good job, Damian! Incidentally, I did offer very recently an apology to anyone offended by my use of foul language, which isn't common at all on my blog...But working in Korea to make payments on my student loans, and then having both international wires so far take a grand total of about 5 weeks to go through (with the second apparently not solvable at the time), had certainly taken a toll.

At 2:35 p.m., Blogger Alan said...

No problem asking at all, John.

I certainly do not support the hatchet job the current piece of junk who ever the IT consultants were created but I do support a registry that is real time and at nominal cost. It should, however, have cost 10% the current bill. For me, the reason is that I have done bail hearings on violent domestics and had to rely on the word of the accused whether or not he was in fact in possession of firearms. As we Canadians do not have a constitutional right to bear arms, I need not comment on your exercise of that right under your constitution except to say that we all should exercise every constitutional right our nations provide us.

Alan of GenX40

At 2:36 p.m., Blogger John of Argghhh! said...

Excellent response, that gets at the heart of the issue.

At 2:53 p.m., Blogger Dana said...

Great job Damian but dude... I'm a guy!

At 3:20 p.m., Blogger Babbling Brooks said...

Dana, I'm an idiot [insert red-faced apology here]. Correction's on its way.

At 7:40 p.m., Blogger Chris Taylor said...

Great job Damian, and congrats on netting another Instalanche for the Brigade!

At 10:03 p.m., Blogger Temujin said...

Thank you so much for all your hard work. You carry the legacy of your grandparents with class.

Nicely done.

At 11:24 p.m., Blogger Sue said...

Great site! I'm glad I stumbled onto it and found so many fantastic Canadian blogs! My grandparents are of a similar ilk and it's heartening to see the Red Ensign Brigade is alive and well.

At 7:23 a.m., Blogger Dana said...

Don't worry about it Damian. A lot of people do it.

At 10:09 a.m., Blogger Nathan said...

YES, Alan, we need you!

At 11:52 a.m., Blogger Alan said...

Raging Kraut returned me to the list in exchange for a term in the brig for going AWOL.

At 12:19 p.m., Blogger Babbling Brooks said...

Alan, the fact that you'd formally ask to rejoin instead of assuming you could is one of the reasons why I'm glad you're back in the group.

The other main reason is that you seem to have some serious connections to the wonderful world of beer.

At 8:25 p.m., Blogger Prolix said...

Great post, Damian!

Something that I haven't quite worked through yet is the competing uses of symbols. For you and the Brigade, the Red Ensign is something to rally around. For others, and I don't just mean the bloggers who are opposed to ice cream, it may mean oppression (e.g. older French Canadians). What sparked this particular train of thought was your monologue. It reminded me of the Confederate Battle flag debate that is still going on in the U.S. There, to one group, it represents their link to a long rich history, to another group it represents hatred, racism, and oppression. Which side would you sit on if you were there? The same could be said about the use of the Japanese Rising Sun Naval Battle flag which is still flown by the Japanese Self-Defense Forces. To some, I'd imagine that that flag brings back nightmares...

At 12:48 p.m., Blogger The Tiger said...

The answer to that question, I suppose, would be that it depends on whether one places the Canada of the early to mid twentieth century on the same moral plane as the Confederacy and Imperial Japan.

At 7:20 p.m., Blogger Prolix said...

I'm not certain that's it, Ben. You're focusing on the context and not the argument, which is basically the same in both cases. In other words, take Damian's argument and you could make it for both of the other situations... this is what perplexes me as I think his argument is sound and I respect it's premise that we shouldn't forget our history -- the good (WWI, WWII, support for NATO and the UN Charter), the bad (economic and political oppression of French Canada, toxic dumps) and the ugly (Japanese Canadian internment, Indian Residential Schools and forced relocation of Inuit tribes). But, I never would have thought that I could support the argument being made by the Louisiana State legislature in defending their right to fly the Confederate flag -- the flag that many of their forefathers fought and died under -- over their capitol building.

At 8:10 p.m., Blogger The Tiger said...

Kinda. I actually don't have all that much of a problem with the use of the Stars and Bars -- except that I know quite well that it was put up not in the 19th century or something, but in the 1950s or the 1960s in response to the Civil Rights Movement. And I just can't sanction that.

Russia, my academic area of interest, faces a similar problem with its old imagery -- what to do? Use the Tsarist stuff, as they do on their coins and with their tricolour? Use the Communist stuff, as they do with their new (old) anthem? I prefer using a mix, and having it all.

What I think perhaps could be done with the Stars and Bars is incorporating it within a larger banner that also includes some sort of symbol of the fight against it -- a North Star or something, maybe?

Because that's the other thing -- in our big fights, WWI and WWII, we were on the right side. With those other banners, they weren't.

But hey, I've got a Communist banner up in my room -- I don't take that stuff all that seriously.

At 1:28 p.m., Blogger Prolix said...

Thanks, Ben... I think your last post brought me back to the real world. LOL I do tend to be a purist in these matters and need to lighten up a bit...

As I understand it, the path to our current national flag was caught up in the whole English Canada-French Canada dynamic as well. I'm just glad that the flag that they came up with had a simple design, a unifying theme, and little in the way of background.

At 2:10 a.m., Blogger John said...

Welcome back, Alan, and welcome to all new members!

At 3:01 a.m., Blogger John Murney said...

How does one apply to join Red Ensign bloggers?


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