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The army “invades” Alliston’s Potato Festival, but for fun only

August 2007
I wish to comment on Bradley Campaigne’s letter (Festival no place for military propaganda, 17 August, Alliston Herald). While you are certainly entitled to your opinion, I don’t know what world you are living in. What makes you think that a kiddy commando course will ‘help promote a faction of our society that condones death and destruction’? Although I did grow up with a father who served in the Army Reserve, he was the furthest from my mind when my friends and I would grab out toy guns and run around the neighbourhood playing war. Why does this seem strange and twisted to you? We were PLAYING.

As I hunter and former Navy Reservist, I do have an issue with the idea of guns being thought of as toys, but that”s another discussion. Even at a young age, I knew that when James Bond shot someone, that it was only pretend and that the actor was not really dead. This was very apparent when Charles Grey was killed in You Only Live Twice, only to return as Ernst Stavro Blofeld in Diamonds Are Forever. I realize that when people go to a real war and get shot, you don”t get to count to 20 and you”re suddenly “alive” again, but we all knew the difference between real and pretending.

Children just want to play and playing is all that the kids who did the kiddy commando course wanted to do. I wasn”t at the Potato Festival, but I bet it was quite fun for them.

As far as “teaching our children about peace and honour instead of war, which has no honour”, although war is distasteful and should only be a last resort, if it wasn”t for our brave men and women who served during World War II, we would all be speaking German right now. Hitler conquered most of Europe, but when it came to Great Britain, his invasion failed due to the determination and bravery of the Royal Air Force. As we all know however, things did not end there. It wasn”t for another 4 years before the tide of the war really turned in favour of the Allies. This was due to the bravery, dedication and determination of Allied soldiers, sailors and air personnel. Defeat at the hands of the Nazis was a very real possibility until then. They deserve more thanks than we could ever give them for not giving up, even when things looked grim.

Your statement, “….warmongers and big business and their quest for power through oil.” is an extremely offensive statement that shows your true bias. Wars like World War II and even the Korean War, were not about oil, but WWII was about power: Hitler’s power and domination of the world.

How about all the United Nations peacekeeping missions that some Canadians think should be the only focus for our military? You can”t have a peacekeeping mission unless you have military personnel who are trained to stop aggressors by destroying them if needed. Look what happened in Rwanda, where UN peacekeepers were denied the authority to directly intervene in their civil war. How about the UN mission in the former Yugoslavia in the early 1990s? That was not about oil, but trying to stop a bloody civil war that harmed more children than the kiddy commando course ever would.

You say that you are “aware that we need a military in Canada for many reasons other than warfare”” Don”t glorify war and try to make it fun”. Is the idea of war fun? No it certainly isn”t but if it were up to people like you, World War II would have had a very different ending, the Serbs and Croats in the former Yugoslavia would have destroyed each other and Afghani women would not be attending schools right now.

I”ve talked to many veterans of World War II (have you?) and none of them thought the war itself was fun; some even refuse to speak about the things they did and saw, but all agree that the job (of protecting our freedom) had to be done. They were not warmongers. Some joined out of a sense of adventure, but most if not all joined out of a sense of patriotism, something we are extremely lacking these days. One veteran I spoke to told me that young men couldn”t wait to join up.

You can”t have a free society without a military to protect that freedom. Take a look at The War of 1812, when American forces invaded what is now Canada. Although the Americans certainly wouldn”t have enslaved us, if it wasn”t for the British military, backed up by First Nations Warriors from the Six Nations near Brantford (ironically the same nation that we are “battling” in Caledonia), we would be an American state now. Would you prefer that we were all American? I have absolutely nothing against Americans, but I am proud to be Canadian.

This is beside the point that militaries aren”t just for killing and protecting oil fields. The military can provide an education, discipline, a future, travel and adventure, leadership training, ethics and values training, teamwork training, strategic planning training, honour, loyalty and a respect of tradition, and many other skills that serve people well in both military and non-military jobs. This in addition to providing disaster relief (the ice storm in Eastern Ontario – Quebec ring a bell for you?). That”s why many employers look highly upon military service for both perspective and current employees.

If you want to be a mechanic, a cook, a pilot or a doctor, but can”t afford to pay for the schooling, the military will train you at no cost, in addition to guaranteeing a job on completion of training. Royal Military College provides a fully paid, top-notch university level education and a job as a commissioned officer in the Canadian Forces. If my daughter wanted to join the military, I would be very proud of her.

Your problem seems to be with the current war in Iraq, which I admit is a mess, but don”t let your political agenda poison your children’s minds. I bet they are no more likely to want to go to war and kill people than I was at their age. Just let them play and have fun.

Oh yeah, and make sure you thank a veteran for your freedom too and tell your children to do the same.

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

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