I caught an interview on the news last night that captured my attention. The interviewer was speaking with a visitor at the Canadian National Exhibition, a tradition in Toronto which takes place during the last two weeks in August. Normally the last weekend of the CNE features an air show which includes war planes from the Canadian military. The interviewee said that he thought that the military should be banned from any participation in the CNE, including the air show and any recruiting stations on the grounds. His premise was that it was inappropriate to glorify war, to trivialize it, to traumatize those who might be present at the CNE who had gone through the horrors of war and had come to Canada to escape it.
I get it. But what I also "get" is society's desperate attempt re-write history by denying it, locking it away, or by telling only one side of its story and its "truth." I can never forget the old adage which reminds us that when we seek to forget our past and the lessons we should have learned from it, we are in danger of repeating that history and being forced to relearn its lessons.
The intent of the CNE would not be to glorify, trivialize, or traumatize—at least that is my assumption. We watch the air show and remember that these planes are friendly, they do not represent a danger to us, but rather a protection of our freedoms. Because of them we do not have to fear, for example, the Russians disrespecting our Northern borders and planting a flag on Canadian soil as they have disrespected the Ukrainian border.
To serve Canada as a member of the Armed Forces is an honorable profession. Few enter it because they are killers looking for someone to kill. To inform a recruiting station that it has no right be be publicly visible because it represents a shameful part of the fabric of our society is to insult its many members who have given themselves to provide freedom for us and others and to keep the peace in places of conflict around the world.
As for those who come to Canada seeking the peace that their own countries are not able to give them, the presence of uniformed men and women who represent that which protects them from repeating the horror they have already been through, is more likely to become a blessing rather than an curse.
Yes, war is a terrible thing. There is no denying that many wrongs have been committed during those years of conflict. But many good and just things have also happened. Every coin has two sides and we do ourselves, our children, and our society a disservice to forget either.