Category Archives: Anthropology

Mom, Christmas Postie

In the early ’60s, my mother worked at London’s postal sorting station during the Christmas rush.  It was for a few weeks when the Christmas Postie mom Xmas 1962volume of mail overwhelmed the sorting capacity of the regular staff.   It was the only time my mother worked at a job where she had to clock in for regular hours.  Very tiring, just standing all day.  The other women told her to bring egg cartons.  She’d flatten several cartons or get the 2 1/2 dozen flats and take them to stand on.

It was odd coming home from school and Mom not being there.  It was kind of fun but I don’t think I’d have liked it all the time.  I think that’s how she felt about the work too – fun to go somewhere and do something different and nice to have the bit of extra money but not something she wanted to do day in and day out.

I never thought at the time how she managed to pull Christmas together at the same time.  She made dinner for us, her parents and her sisters and their families.  Dad set up Xmas-1959tables in the basement, using sawhorses and half sheets of plywood.  Plastic Christmas tablecloths covered them.  All the food got carried down from the kitchen.  It was the only time of the year that our unfinished basement was used as a dining room.  It was fun.  In the evening, after everyone had left and Mom had cleaned up, we would drive to my other grandparents’ house and have presents and another huge meal there.

Postal Workers

I don’t know if Canada Post still hires casual Christmas workers.  There is not the deluge of Christmas cards mailed that there used to be.  We got so many that Mom would cover walls with them hung on loops of string.  She sent just as many too.

All this was before automated sorting and postal codes or the strikes that seemed to happen every few months in the 1970s.  It was before canadiandesignresources.ca stamps centenary postal workerscourier services took over much of the mail delivery, because of the strikes.  It was before postal workers began making a very good wage, and before the head of Canada Post earned half a million dollars plus bonus each year.  And of course, it was before faxes and emails, Facebook and Twitter.

People mailed letters and thank you cards, party invitations and birthday cards, sympathy cards and thinking-of-you cards, postcards that got back before you did from your vacation, and airmail letters on onion-skin paper to save on weight.  It was all delivered to your house or, if you lived in a small town, you went to the post office and had a chat with the postmaster or –mistress while you collected your mail.  In the country, it came to a box at the end of the driveway, canadiandesignresources.ca stampsdelivered by someone like my grandparents who had a mail route for many years.

There’s still some of that of course.  Superboxes haven’t replaced all human postal contact, yet.  And they’re fine, as long as they don’t freeze up in winter or jam in summer.  But you still need post offices for stamps and questions that the website can’t answer.

Baby Prince George

FB-Monarchy-post about Prince GeorgeIn the past three days, the royal baby has been born, brought home, had pictures posted on Facebook, and been named. A boy named HRH Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge.

For two days my television was tuned to the Royal Baby Channel – whichever one had “live coverage”. It’s been worth it, waiting to see that little bundle in the arms of both his parents. Also worth it have been the hours and hours of filler patter by hosts and guests on the broadcast specials. I find you always learn something new about British and Royal history and protocol when guests have to fill airtime.

There is a photograph, I learned, from the last time there were four generations in the direct royal line. It is of Queen Victoria, her son who would be Edward VII, her grandson London,-Royalty,-Four-Generations Queen Victoriathe future George V and her infant great-grandson the future, and fleeting, Edward VIII. Let’s hope it works out better for this newborn when it is his time to be king.

Something struck me as very interesting in the analyst chat on CNN yesterday. It was the question of when this future king’s time will come. Repeatedly, people said with amazement that it might well be 70 years before it was his time. Amazing indeed considering that, in 70 years, his father William will be 101 years old. Even with the good genes of the Windsors, still being a reigning monarch at that age would be remarkable.

I think having three generations already in line for succession actually means is that there may not be a reign as long as that of Elizabeth II, or Victoria, in this century. That is, of course, assuming that these future kings live out their assigned ‘three score and ten’ or more years.

my-tv-screen CTV Prince George leaves hospitalLooking at the number of direct heirs doesn’t determine how long it will take for them to reach the throne anymore than only counting heads in a grocery store check-out line tells you how long you have to wait to reach the cashier. You also have to look at how full their shopping carts are. With succession, you have to look at the age of the heirs as well as the number of them. The best estimate you can make is how long their reigns might be.

Queen Victoria’s heirs

Queen Victoria also had three heirs lined up. She came to the throne at the age of eighteen and lived a very long life. Her son’s reign was only 9 years. His son came to the throne already a grandfather. He reigned for 26 years. His son, the present Queen’s father, died when only 56 so Elizabeth came to the throne at the age of Mom's Royal Scrapbook photo D Stewart25, much younger than she or anyone else expected.

What is significant about these four generations is that, all things being equal, it is likely that people alive today will never again see a young monarch or such a long reign. The last generation to see the fairy-tale story of a young princess, or prince, being crowned will have been the age cohort of Queen Elizabeth. That being said, Long Live the Queen – and the future King and King and King.

Queen’s Secret: Review

Amazon link for Charles Templeton The Queen's Secret
Click for Amazon

Last week I saw a book called The Queen’s Secret by Charles Templeton.  Curious to see if it was by the late Canadian journalist of that name, I pulled it off the shelf.  Yes and even better, due to my being in a Royal mood with the expected arrival of HRH Baby, the plot hinges on the line of succession to the throne.

It was published in 1986.  Its queen is a fictitious Mary III who has one heir, a daughter.   References are made to previous monarchs, including Elizabeth II and her father and uncle. It also refers to times of conflict between personal life and duty in their reigns. Conflicts that caused crises for the individuals, the monarchy and the nation.

The book is set in an unspecified future, one in which scientific discoveries and technologies now commonplace clearly have not been invented.  Problems that have beset the monarchy in past and present times move the story along.  Those include the political and Daily-Mirror-July-1982 Palace prowler headlinereligious aspects of marital choice for Royals, especially those who are heir presumptive or apparent, and the intrusion of media attention into the private lives of Royals and the governance of the country.

According to the book jacket, Templeton got the idea for the book after a man broke into Buckingham Palace in 1982 and succeeded in getting into Queen Elizabeth’s bedroom.  When The Queen’s Secret was published, media attention on the Royals was high. Particularly so for Diana and Sarah, wives of Charles and Andrew.

Critic: “quaint and archaic”

However, we had not yet reached the apex of attention, and tragedy.  A 1987 review of Templeton’s novel considered the plot outdated. “[T]he glory days of royalty are clearly waning,”  the reviewer said, calling stories about mésalliances of Royals “quaint and archaic to a generation weaned on People Andrew_Sarah_wedding_1986-07-23_wikimediamagazine and prime-time soap operas. The British nobility itself is now in decline…”  Little did the reviewer know in 1987 that the Royal soap opera had barely begun.

The solution to the problem of reconciling the personal and political given in the story would not be possible now due to a change in succession protocol made by the Queen in anticipation of William and Kate’s baby.  As the firstborn, their child, whether female or male, will in time be the heir apparent.  Prior to that change, a firstborn daughter of the monarch was the “heir presumptive”. If a boy was born later, he would displace her in the line of succession.

Templeton’s heir presumptive is named Victoria. That’s the name I’m betting on if William and Kate’s baby is a girl.

HRH Baby

With the expected Royal baby, there will be a kinship situation that hasn’t existed since Queen Victoria reigned.

royal_family-balcony-detail-wikicommons-Magnus-DThere will be 3 generations of direct heirs apparent to the throne:  the Prince of Wales, Prince William and Prince William’s child.  Like Victoria, Queen Elizabeth’s children have become grandparents while she is still on the throne.

In December 2012 the line of succession was changed in law to simply the firstborn of the Prince-of-Wales-Investiture-1969-education.gtj.org.ukheir.  It had previously been the eldest son.  If the first child was a girl, she was heir only if she never had a brother.  That is easy enough to grasp.  It’s a second change made by the Queen to titles that’s less well known.  When I saw headlines that William and Kate’s baby, if a girl, would be a Princess, I didn’t understand why she wouldn’t be already.

Until now, only the eldest son of the Prince of Wales’ eldest son had the title Prince.  His sisters and younger brothers were known as Lady or Lord.  William and Kate’s baby will be in that position, great-grandchild of the Queen, from the Prince of Wale’s eldest son.  By the change in succession rules made in December, that child, whether a boy or girl, will be in line for the throne after William.  The title change means she will be HRH Princess Baby, not The Lady Baby.  So too will her siblings, for this applies to all the children of the Prince of Wales’ direct heir.

British Royal Titles

Royal baby -titles-chart-by-D-Stewart
Click for larger view of royal titles

All children of a monarch are Prince or Princess.  The children of the monarch’s sons are also Prince or Princess, but daughters’ children take their titles from their fathers.  For the great-grandchildren, only the eldest son of the 3rd in line for the throne was called Prince.  Titles follow the male line, with the exception of the children of a regnant Queen.  I made this simplified chart (above) of who would have what title.  The chart below shows the current Royal Family with their primary titles.

Royal-Family-kinship-chart
Click for larger view of Royal Family titles

Birth and bestowed titles

The good thing about being Queen is you can give people titles.  So, for example, the Queen made Antony Armstrong-Jones an Earl before he married her sister Princess Margaret.   Margaret’s children inherited their titles from him.  Mark Phillips, when he married Princess Anne, chose not to receive a title.  Therefore their children, while in the line of succession, have no titles.  Also, if you have several titles, you can choose which you wish to use and pass on.  So the Queen and her son Prince Edward decided on Earl of Wessex for him when he married, instead of the customary dukedom.  He then chose that lesser title to use in giving his children titles.  So, although technically they are prince and princess, they are known as Lord and Lady.

A Princess born into the royal family continues to be called Princess and takes her husband’s titles.  A Prince’s wife, if a commoner, becomes princess but the title is not put before her own name.  Diana was never ‘Princess Diana’, she was ‘Diana, Princess of Wales’ for example.  She can also go by another title of his, as Kate did with Duchess of Cambridge.  If her husband has no other titles, she is known as Princess his name, as with Princess Michael of Kent (the Queen’s cousin by marriage).

Eldest royal baby girl

Down the road, another matter will need to be addressed if the royal baby is a girl.  The monarch’s eldest daughter may be named Princess Royal.  Unlike Prince of Wales that is Elizabeth_II-coronation-portrait-detail_1953-Library-Archives-Canada-PDa temporary title, Princess Royal is given for life.  Anne is the Princess Royal, and will remain so until her death.  The previous Princess Royal was Mary, daughter of George V.  As it stands, William’s heir eventually could be both Prince of Wales and Princess Royal.

I hope the baby is a girl.  I’d like to see these historic changes play out.  I read that they may include Elizabeth and Diana as middle names for a girl, but nothing on her first name.  My money is on Victoria.  It’s a “queenly” name and it would give us a Victoria II.

I found these websites helpful: 

“Would Prince William’s…?; “…title [of] daughter of a princess?”

Monarchist League NB Jan. 2013 Queen Letters Patent

House of Windsor family tree

Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent 

HRH Prince Michael of Kent.

Idle No More

Our ancestors wanted this land Canada so damned bad that they crossed the ocean, crossed the country in wagon trains, fought each other, fought the indigenous peoples, and cleared forest for pasture and crop land. Subsequent waves of immigrants saved up for steerage passage to the New World.

ox-in-field-hrsbstaff.ednet.ns.caNow we, descendants of these migrants, stand idle and leave it to the First Nations peoples to fight to save the land. Idle No More is not just about protecting existing First Nations and treaty rights. It’s about protecting all of us, and our shared homeland, from legislative changes that may have serious repercussions down the road.

Bill C-45 was a catalyst for Idle No More.  Now passed, it is a 443 page omnibus Bill consisting of changes to over 40 diverse pieces of legislation. Its amendments to two Acts in particular are of concern to first nations panow idle no more protest--dec.-21,-2012-newstalk650.comIdle No More. They are changes to Canada’s Navigable Waters Protection Act and to the Indian Act regarding reserve land.

Reserve land is owned by the Crown, held for use by the resident First Nation. The band can “surrender” land to the Crown (federal government) for sale or lease in order to have developments not possible under the strictures of Indian Act land title. Until now, doing so required approval by a majority of a majority. Over half of those eligible must vote and, of those, over half must vote in favour in order for it to pass. Bill C-45 has changed this to simply a majority of those who vote. So if 100 of 1000 eligible voters vote, a yes vote by 51 means it passes. The potential for skewed results is mindboggling.

‘Speed things up’

Also, before Bill C-45, the entire federal cabinet had to approve the vote result before it took effect. Now only the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs must approve it. The Idle no more victoria-bc-21-Dec-2012-r-a-paterson-wikicommonsfederal government says the new rules will speed things up. The old system, government says, took months and even years for change to take effect. But why not speed up the implementation instead of changing the ground rules of democracy?

Land surrender might be used for a shopping mall or something wanted by a reserve’s residents and affecting only them. But it also might be used for negotiating agreements between industry and governments. Maybe for plans that only a very small minority of band members, and Canadians in general, want.

Protection of waterways is another biggie in Bill C-45 with potential for huge destruction of Canada’s environment. Although this is not an aboriginal-specific issue, it seems it’s rabble.ca-blogs-2012-12primarily First Nations that are upset about it. By removing most of the country’s lakes and rivers from federal protection, management and development can occur at the provincial, municipal and private levels without consultation with the federal government.

That can be a good thing when you’re talking about small streams and local management that can do quite nicely without federal red tape. The downside is it also lessens the ‘red tape’ of environmental assessment. So large-scale inter-provincial developments can go ahead more easily.

See something similar in both these cases? Less consultation and assessment making an easier process for development. And current large-scale projects like the Enbridge pipeline from Alberta to British Columbia, just wishing First Nations, environmentalists and environmental impact studies would go away.

Idle or Action

banner settlers in solidarity with 1st nations beaconnews.ca-2012-12If we think that our immigrant ancestors’ efforts in settling Canada were worthwhile, we should remember that, by and large, they used their new homeland carefully and respectfully. We all have reasons to protest changes wrought by Bill C-45.

Here is an informative interview about Idle No More and Bill C-45 with Pam Palmeter on CBC Radio’s Day 6.

Newtown CT

When smoking was still permitted in restaurants, you’d sometimes see signs:  “No pipes or cigars”. That was because the smoke from those is much stronger. To me, this is a Bonnie Parker Cigar1933 pd wikicommonsway to look at gun access.  There are many valid reasons for owning a gun; for hunting, target shooting, self-protection. Many types and models that serve those purposes well have existed for many years.

Other firearms are designed for specialized purposes. Automatic and semi-automatic weapons, assault and sniper rifles were developed for military actions and are what you want in those situations. But for civilian hunting, sport or protection, their capabilities are not needed. Like cigar smoke, they are too strong for a setting of civility.

Our communities and streets, we hope, are places of civility. So let’s remove the “overkill” weaponry from them. That’s all previous US gun control legislation tried to do, and having even that back would be a vast improvement today.

balloons at Sandy Hook school signThere may well still be people who for whatever reason decide to shoot strangers, family or friends – maybe many of them, maybe even 6 year olds. But if they weren’t carrying firearms that would hold such large ammunition clips, maybe they wouldn’t be able to kill so many.

I think, by definition, those who kill people they don’t even know have something seriously wrong with them. There are ways, perhaps, to redirect or resolve their personal issues. Something more is desperately needed in our mental health support system.

A blog by a woman about life with a potentially violent son is chilling, but her honesty and insight makes it required reading for all of us. Provision of mental health care must be improved. But, please God, not just with psychiatrists prescribing yet more psychotropic drugs.

Gun Culture

26-Newtown-Christmas-trees‘The Culture of Violence’ has been much talked about since the massacre in Newtown. Video games, music, movies, drugs and media hyper-attention have all been blamed. All may contribute, I think. But that’s a very large and amorphous mass – called, indeed, culture. Can’t change it all with legislation.

I wonder if Miss Manners hit the nail on the head in discussing the loss of the dinner party as a social staple. In the NY Times, she says the ability to converse and generally act civilly is gone, replaced by opining and expounding without listening. Courtesy and respect can be taught and practiced at home, with family and friends.

To go back to the smoking analogy, people have adapted to bans on even cigarette smoking. If they can do that, why should it be any more difficult for people to adapt to something much less physiologically distressing like having limits placed on the types of firearms, modifications and firing capacity you can legally have?

 gun manufacturer ad-bushmaster-acrThere is a final irony in what happened Friday in Newtown. Connecticut has some of the strictest firearm laws in the US.  And the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a supporter of 2nd Amendment rights, is based there, in Newtown. The gun industry has a long history in Connecticut. Some of the country’s largest gun manufacturers have their headquarters there. They pay taxes to the state and provide jobs. One may ponder whether the right to unbridled gun ownership and those jobs and tax monies are worth the 28 lives lost Friday.

 

Newtown Kids & Dogs

A lot of dogs in Newtown, Connecticut will be working overtime in the solace department.  There are children and adults who will need Victoria Soto and Roxie from USA Todaythe love of their pets to help them cope after losing a sibling, a son or daughter, a mother or wife.

The pets will need comfort themselves.  They too have lost a beloved member of their family.  Roxie, a Black Labrador, is one.  Victoria Soto, one of the teachers killed in Friday’s massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, was her person.  Ms Soto died protecting the children in her classroom.

Newtown Park & Bark

Trying to learn about Newtown, I went to the municipal website.  In dogpark_july newtownparkandbark.orgthe menu under the “residents” tab, I saw they have been raising money for a dog park called Park & Bark that is scheduled to open in late 2013.  It was sad, yet cheering, to look at the people looking so proud of their fundraising efforts and happy about building a place to play with their dogs.

If you wish to let the people of Newtown know in a practical way that you are thinking of them, consider donating to their dog park.  There’s a donate button newtown park-&-barkon the page.  While it’s not directly related to the tragedy they are enduring, the town and people and dogs will go on.  I hope that Park & Bark will open on schedule as a symbol that Newtown has survived this unspeakable loss.

From my St. Thomas Dog Blog, Dec. 16, 2012 (2 comments)

Library Science

Sometimes a simple thing happens that makes you realize what you should have done.  Bancroft-Library-wikicommons-C-S-Imming-2012One day at the library, I was reshelving books that had been left out.  There were a lot of them.  Messy people, I thought, can’t even put back the books they take out to look at.  Before too long fortunately, I noticed a sign:  “Please do not reshelve books.  Survey of book usage in progress.”  Uh-oh.  I quickly unshelved those I could remember reshelving.

That day I acknowledged my inner librarian.  I have loved libraries, small and large, for almost as long as I can remember.  I now wish I’d taken Library Science at university.  I am not sorry I took Anthropology but had I combined that with Library Science I’d have had, for me I think, a perfect combination.

Anthropology provides wonderful tools for looking at the world, and it’s relatively marketable.  I think any government or social services position would be improved by having someone with an anthropology degree in it.  In real life, however, its direct connection to job requirements is usually as “a degree in social sciences.”  But that’s enough, it gets you in the door.  But it won’t get you a librarian job.

Malinowski in Trobriands - library scienceAs an Anthropology student, I could have focused on archival research methods.  That would have taught me, by experience, the nuts and bolts of libraries, archives and museums.  Ironically, historical research has been the largest part of my work.  But, in university, that did not seem as glamorous as ethnographic fieldwork.  So, despite the appeal of libraries to me, I didn’t think to put the two interests together within Anthropology or in studying both.

I love anthropology and it’s stood me in good stead.  But I love the smell and feel of Steacie-Library-York-U-wikicommons-Raysonho-2008libraries.  I love looking through bookshelves and card catalogues, but I’m always curious about what goes on behind them.  How do the books get processed and on the shelves?  How are decisions made about what books and periodicals are bought?  How does the Dewey Decimal System really work?  How has library work changed in the digital era?  People who have studied Library Science know all this.

Librarians are both the gatekeepers and the engineers of the worlds of knowledge.  They Belmont-Library-ON-2012 children's section artwork Patricia Couturelet you in and they stream the supply to their shelves.  They, with teachers, are children’s first encounter with literacy outside the home.  And maybe I’ve been lucky but I’ve never met a librarian who made me think, “wow, you’d be happier in another line of work.”   Maybe that’s due to being a daily part of so many wonderful worlds of art and fact.

So to those in or thinking about undergrad programmes or graduate school:  don’t discount social science and liberal arts disciplines that appear to have no job market Stephen_A_Schwarzman_Building_wikicommons-Blurpeace-2009relevance.  They all do, at least indirectly.  And, most importantly, they teach you to think.  Without that ability, any degree or qualification is of limited use.  But don’t discount the practical career-directed degree either.  If I had it to do all over again, I’d have both Library Science and Anthropology degrees.

Mr. Otto Kelland

A while back, I was looking online for a family in response to a query.  I found them.  A note on their kinship chart said the wife was sister of Otto Kelland, maker of the model fishing boats displayed at the Fisheries College in St. John’s and composer of the song Let Newfoundland Museum Duckworth Street St. John'sMe Fish Off Cape St. Mary’s.  I sat back, stared at the screen and said “Wow!”

Instantly I was back in the Newfoundland Museum, the old one on Duckworth Street, about 1982.  I worked as a weekend attendant and we tried to have a staff person on each floor, to keep an eye on things and be available to visitors who had questions.  One Saturday, I was on the 3rd floor, the Newfoundland history display.

Two men stopped for a long time at the display case of model fishing boats.  The older man would point a finger to something on one of them while talking.  Their conversation looked interesting, so I wandered over close enough that I could eavesdrop.  I had spent a lot of time studying those models.  I loved the workmanship and I would compare all the Newfoundland Monkstown dory model by Otto Kellandlittle parts, seeing what made one type of vessel different from another.

Father and son, as it turned out they were, noticed me nearby and included me in their discussion.  After knowledgeably talking about the models, the elder man explained to me:  “I built these, y’see.”  I thought, sure you did, just after you finished the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.  We had a lot of rather odd people who spent time in the museum.  But the more he talked, the more likely it seemed that he really had built these model ships.

Let Me Fish Off Cape St. Mary’s

The son decided introductions were in order so he told me his name and “this is my father, Otto Kelland.”  I sneaked a peak at the cards propped beside the model ships just to verify what I already knew:  made by Otto Kelland.  Then another realization hit me:  Otto Kelland also was the name of the man who wrote the most beautiful Newfoundland song I’d ever heard.  I said “Let Me Fish Off Cape St. Mary’s?”  “Oh yes my dear, that was me,” he laughed.

panorama of Cape St. Mary'sMy eyes filled up as I stared at him, open-mouthed.  I felt like a fool, but I was totally awestruck.  The beautiful models that I had spent so many hours looking at, the song that moved me to tears every time I heard it – and the maker of both smiling at me.

Then we reversed roles up there on the 3rd floor.  The museum attendant was given a tour by the museum patron.  Mr. Kelland explained the design and equipment of the fishing vessels using his models as illustration.  Then he took me and Otto Kellandhis son around the other displays of fishing stages and stores, industrial equipment and household items.  I learned more that day about my museum and about Newfoundland than I ever had before.

I’ve never forgotten the thrill of meeting him that day.  And seeing that note about him on a genealogy page brought it all back fresh as the day it happened.  So I’m proud to say that Mr. Otto P. Kelland is now entered in my database.

Amazon link for Dories and Dorymen by Otto Kelland*If you’ve never heard the song, here’s a beautiful version by The Irish Descendants.  Also here’s a book written by Otto Kelland on Amazon: Dories and Dorymen

 

Poppies

My dad had a whole collection of poppies.  Mom kept the ones that we bought every year Black and green-centred poppiesand pinned them on the top of a wallhanging in the dining room.  Every November, Dad would just take one off the hanging and pin it to his jacket.  When I commented that annual poppy sale money supported the Legion, he said “I was in the war. I don’t need to give my money every year to those old farts.”

He had a point.  And since then, I’ve looked carefully at the poppies worn by people old enough to be WWII veterans.  Are they, like Dad, wearing poppies with green centres, years after black-centred ones replaced the green?  Do their poppies look like they themselves had been through the wars, as some of Dad’s did?  When I do see a battered old poppy on an old fella, I smile, happy to think there’s someone who shares Dad’s philosophy.

New Brunswick Legion car poppyBut for the rest of us who haven’t paid for poppies with the currency of our lives, we owe it to those who have, and are, to put money in the collection boxes every year.  If, like me, you lose your poppy or wear a different jacket – well, buy another one!

White or red poppies

A white poppy movement started a few years after the red poppies appeared – so that people could honour war casualties, civilian and soldier, without honouring the act of war.  I white poppy boxsuppose that’s ok.  There was a time in my life when I felt conflicted about buying or wearing a poppy.  It seemed like it was giving positive sanction to war to do so.  I even lectured a couple young cadets once when they were selling apples to raise money.  “I won’t buy your apple because I don’t support the war machine” I told them.  Oh, how absolutely pretentious was I!

I’d read soldiers saying that, in war, their primary concern was with the survival of each other. They were fighting for their own and their comrades’ lives.  Hooey, I thought back then, you wouldn’t have to worry about that if you’d just said “no to war” and not enlisted or accepted your draft call.

Canadian UN peacekeeping troops Rwanda 1994But after getting to know some soldiers, I realized that there are many reasons why people end up in the Armed Forces and few of those reasons involve wanting to fight.  But that possibility is real, and is accepted as part of the job.  When it happens, whether in war or peace-keeping missions, the danger is faced and bravery kicks in.  They do, every day, put their lives on the line.  They want to do their jobs well, stay alive and keep their buddies unharmed.

War itself may be a vicious response to green-centred poppyinternational problems, but when it happens, it’s good that there are men and women who do the job that’s necessary to end it.  And they may well pay with their blood.  And it’s their blood that is honoured by the red of the poppy.