Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Media Remembering Veterans

November 11th is upon us and the media will be saturated with stories and images of the war on Friday, to commemorate Remembrance day.

I have been working on two mini-documentaries for radio class about the Veteran's hospital in Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue. I am doing a two-part series on a student visit program and the people helping veterans.

The stories are so poignant, it has been hard to cut out anything. Editing has been a nightmare, as I listened to account after account of people being affected by war, of people realizing what veterans have done...

I spoke to a veteran selling poppies on the corner of Atwater and St-Catherine. He thanked me (!) and the student press from Concordia and McGill for giving the attention needed to Remembrance day. I told him, that this was the least we could do for veterans - give them the opportunity to tell us what happened and how they have been affected.

He gave me a small card with a small reminder of the significant contribution Canadian veterans have had over the last major wars.

- 628,736 Canadians served in WWI
- 66,573 Canadians died in WWI, 138,166 were injured
- 1, 031,902 Canadians served in WWII
- 44,927 died in WWII, 53,145 were injured.
- 26,791 Canadians served in Korea.
- 516 died in Korea, 1,558 were injured.
-3,837 Canadians served in the Gulf War

Why does the media only talk about Remembrance day once a year? How can we truly reflect in one minute of silence what these men and women have done for us?

Someone on the radio this morning commented that the media needs to get more personal stories about veterans so people understand. Not so easy. Many veterans are getting older and many are affected by dementia and Alzheimer's.

But then again, blame cannot be put solely on the media. Schools teach the bare necessities about history. No wonder we don't truly respect and are not thankful for the sacrifices they have done for us.

Please take a few minutes of silence outside the designated "time to remember". Read something about the history of WWI or WWII, go visit a veteran, take a few minutes to speak to the man or women selling you a poppy. They have much to say and we have much to learn.


Blogger Darcy O'Brien said...

Bravo Mel!

You're probably feeling a bit of a load on your shoulders, to do justice to the Vets. That's only right, but I'm sure you'll come through for them.

It is a shamefull fact that this country does not make a priority of educating its citizens in matters regarding its history, let alone that of the contributions its veterans have made. Children in Holland/Netherlands are taught from the age of being a toddler, to care for the graves of our fallen soldiers.

Tom Brokaw's "The Greatest Generation", and "The Greatest Generation Speaks", are testaments to the courage and sacrifices that Americans made during WWII. I believe that the sentiments expressed in those books, can easily be translated to the Canadian experience during those horrific years. I doubt that our generation would be equal to the task.

Then again, I remember that those men and women (boys and girls, really!) didn't ask to be put through that, and yet they did what they had to do. I suspect given the same conditions today, we would somehow find it in ourselves to do what we must - I hope so, anyways.

Until such time as we are asked to put our own selfish wants and desires to the side, I concur with you, we should take every opportunity to honour our veterans.

Perhaps we can make it a cultural imperative to visit (at least once in our lifetimes) the National War Museum? In any event, our veterans truly humble me. Do them proud, Mel.

9:16 PM  
Blogger Darcy O'Brien said...

There is a remarkable and poignant mini series titled, "Bomber Boys", I highly recommend it. It tells the story of a Lancaster crew, "The Lucky H", and their grandsons who attempt to do some of the training they did. The grandsons came from, Australia, the U.S, England, and Canada.

The grandsons start their journey training in Picton, Ont, the same base where their granfathers trained. It follows their ordeals (minor, compared to the "real deal"), and continues later with trips to England, Germany, and Holland (with their granfathers), tracing the missions of the Lucky H.

A beautiful and poignant documentary.

9:03 PM  

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