Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Don't Forget to Remember

Sacrificing two minutes of our time is the least we can do in remembrance of so many that have sacrificed so much more.
Dad, (Alex Meunier, left) and the boys of 8th Canadian Hussars (Princess Louise's)
The fact that Remembrance Day isn't  recognized as a statutory day of observance in Ontario, Manitoba and Québec is outrageous. 

Although there is a move in Ontario to make it so, headed Tory MPP Lisa MacLeod, I haven't heard "un mot" about the issue in Québec. Not surprising, I guess.

If we can take a day off to celebrate Queen Victoria with a 2-4; we can certainly take a day off to remember and observe the sacrifice of generations of Canadians who paid dearly for the country we have today.

How we feel about the politics and ideologies that precipitated these global conflicts is irrelevant.  

Dad (18yrs old)shipping out 1939
Whether we are peace-niks or raving warmongers, Remembrance Day is about saluting our veterans not the wars they fought in.

My Grandfather and Father served in both WWI and WW2 respectively.  They rarely spoke of their experiences.  If I did hear of anything of what happened overseas, it was from a family friend and usually after a few beers ( and by few, I mean cases).  There was only one time that I asked my father the proverbial: “What did you do in the war, Dad?”

The reply was quick and short: " I drove a motorcycle through the fucking mud in Sicily.

He was a bike courier in Italy with the 8th Canadian Hussars (Princess Louise's) and served in France and Holland as well.  His experience there reinforced his love for anything mechanical and hatred for anything Italian.  Apparently, this didn’t extend to Dean Martin and Perry Como, two Italian crooners who he idolized and fancied himself as being like. (Especially, Dino.)

In Flanders Fields 
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918) 
Canadian Army 

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields

November the 11th was a big deal growing up. During the late fifties and middle sixties in Moncton, we all took 11/11/11 very seriously. My parent's social life revolved around the local Legion.  In school, we prepared for the day in class by making poppy cut-outs and drawing white crosses with the words "Lest We Forget" on faux parchment paper.  We stood in class and recited "In Flanders Field" then kept a two minute silence which was effectively policed by Nuns with rulers. 

Later, as I entered the Beatle generation and the whole sixties anti-war movement was ablaze, I paid little notice to this annual glum-fest.
Ironic that in that idealistic age of Aquarius life seemed so black and white. 

We confused respect for history and the lessons learned with glorification of violence and the political right wing. In my defense, I'm all growed up now.

World War I was supposed to be the war to end all wars. Well, the really big chess game better know as the Treaty of Versailles pretty well fucked any chance of that happening.  So after a brief time out for a world wide depression, the world blew up again.

The world will likely not change. As long as men are greedy for power and money, we will have the abomination of war. The world even more dangerous now. There are no rules of engagement, only rules of terror.

But the human spirit is resilient.

My Father and I were never close. I wasn't the tool carryin', car fixin' kind of son he could relate to.  Nevertheless, with age, I have come to appreciate how difficult it must have been to have served six years of his young life in a land so far away; so strange and so dangerous. 
That he would never discuss his experiences doesn't surprise me.  He was a man who was never comfortable showing emotions, unless pissed off at something or tearing up to Perry Como's rendering of Ave Maria. 

Dad lived in a pre "Oprah" time when bringing closure wasn't the magic pill to cure a troubled conscious. 

I wonder what future my Dad must have imagined as he boarded that train 1939 or who he might have been if he hadn't.

How will you remember?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Televangelist Oral Roberts' gay grandson says "it gets better"

(via The Advocate)

 The grandson of antigay televangelist Oral Roberts (Can you imagine being called "Oral" ?) has a message for “my people — homosexuals.” It gets better.

Randy Robert Potts (pictured), a former middle school English teacher now pursuing a career as a writer, says in a column and accompanying video for The Washington Post that his grandfather “and most of his generation” describe gay people “as an abomination.”

 In the video, Potts talks about his uncle Ronald David Roberts. Ronald came out to his father in high school. According to Potts, Oral Roberts “did not want a gay son,” and when Ronald was in his 30s, six months after getting a divorce, he shot and killed himself.

Potts says that his mother, like her father, does not want a gay son. At his grandfather’s funeral just last year, Potts says his mother told him that “hell does exist, and I’m going there.”
In the years since coming out, Potts says he’s lived in fear of losing his children because he’s gay. He says he even considered suicide, but with help and time, it got better.

 "We could have this debate, but meanwhile, this same group, these gay men and women, will be clamoring, and begging, for healing. They will be dying, too often, from suicide, unwilling to live in a world where this debate is more valuable than their well being. They will be unable to visit their partner in the hospital. They will be unable to legally marry the partner they have loved, and lived with, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, for sometimes ten, sometimes twenty, sometimes thirty years, or more...I disagree with much of what my grandfather taught, but he was right about one thing - healing is simple. It is about establishing a point of contact between a source of power and a person in need. There is a need for men and women of all faiths to reach out, in healing, to their gay brothers and sisters, and welcome them as equal citizens, with equal rights, no longer separate. "

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