The Vimy spin

(Canscene) — You may hate me for what I’m going to say, but say it I must.

Last month, we were treated to a massive outpouring of emotion as we commemorated the 90th anniversary of the Canadian victory at Vimy Ridge.


The commemoration and the restoration of the Vimy monument were just: the Canadian men who fought and succeed where others failed were true heroes.

However I strenuously object to the mythology that many, from politicians to military historians to media are trying to create out of the Vimy battle. It was a defining moment in Canadian military history but in no way can it be seen as the defining moment in the making of our nation.

Vanity, pride drove millions to war

Back in 1917, Canada was still a British colony; there was no such thing as a Canadian citizen until 30 years later when the Citizenship Act was introduced. Canadians, like all the combatants, fought and died in a war that should never have begun and would not have, had it not been for the vanity and pride of monarchs, politicians and generals.

And we have that war to thank for the vengeful misery inflicted upon a defeated Germany that led to the rise of Hitler and the greatest threat to democracy that ever existed.

To me, putting the Great War spin on Canada and Canadian identity smacks of a growing emphasis to militarize the minds of our young people, once again glorifying a war that was nothing but a Great Mistake.

03_aftermath_intropic.jpgWe grieve for the youngsters whose coffins so frequently fly in from Afghanistan. Let’s make sure we grieve for them for the right reasons and not for some jingoistic idea that being warriors suits them better than being peacekeepers.

One Response to “The Vimy spin”

  1. Bill Andersen Says:

    Ben, like you, I have been concerned about the number of media presentations recently, documenting Canada’s past military actions. It’s as if TVO and CBC feel a need to show that Canada can fight as agressively as anyone in this increasingly violent, lawless world.

    If history is being used to whip up support for our current actions in Afghanistan, it is being misused. Why not take pride in what Pearson did to shape Canada’s role in the world?