Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Laurie Hawn, MP, CD

One of the character traits the military service attempts to instill is duty. This means acting out of selflessness without expectations of recognition or reward. You do your job because it needs to be done and that's it. For a few years of my late adolescence and early manhood, I had the honour and privilege of working with people who embodied this ideal far beyond anything I have seen since. Their devotion to their peers and subordinates was second to none. Their behaviour meant that peers and subordinates recognised their selflessness and responded in kind with words and deed. Never once did I see such individual reach out and demand deference. They didn't have to.

On the other hand, I also encountered many who did not have this sense of selflessness. They saw some others as tiresome and inferior; obstacles to their blinkered wellbeing, which in turn lead to favouritism among the like-minded. Much of their time was thus spent pulling rank and lecturing subordinates and rewarding fellow incompentents.

So today I listened to the MP for Edmonton Centre, the Honorable Lieutenant Colonel (ret'd) Laurie Hawn, MP, CD recite the following poem in front of a crowd of thousands.

It is the Soldier,
not the reporter who has given us freedom of press

It is the Soldier,
not the poet who has given us freedom of speech

It is the Soldier,
not the campus organizer who gives us freedom to demonstrate

It is the Soldier who salutes the flag,
who serves beneath the flag,
and whose coffin is draped by the flag,
who allows the protester to burn the flag.

Father Dennis Edward O'Brien, USMC
If I recall, he failed to include that last line, but his point was well made. Lt. Col. Hawn MP CD stood in front of thousands and demonstrated exactly what sort of professional he is. Here, Mr. Hawn got up and lectured us on this most sacred of national days. Demanding as it were, that we (and not all of we, but a certain we) accord his former institution respect. Forgetting that in his current and past job, he serves all Canadians, he had the unmitigated gall to both divide and patronise the people he serves.

Mr. Hawn does not get away with that. Not on this day.

First, he imports a piece of American war-glory to read on a Canadian day. The only other place I've seen this poem is on the barrack room wall of pubescent young privates fresh out of recruit school; it is a teenager's rant. Apparently our own warrior-poets are just not up to par, eh Mr. Hawn?

Second, his American ditty has strong politically partisan undertones. In its blatant denunciation of people exercising their democratic freedom it more a sophistication of this vulgar illustration, than any memorial to the needless sacrifice of millions. Thirty years in the air force you spent Mr. Hawn, and all you can do preach and lecture partisan politics from the sacred pulpit in ghastly ignorance of the nearly 70 000 000 people dead in Canadian wars, and countless more in others, since the Armistice was signed.

Third, the subtext of the poem implies authoritarian military rule. If soldiers "give" freedoms, then they can take them away. Is that right Mr. Hawn? Are you one of those monstrous creatures that think everything would be better if the armed forces were in charge?

Fourth, Mr. Hawn forgets, that in every war we remember, those campus protesters, flag burners, civil leaders, and journalists stepped up and sacrificed. They went in the First War, they went to fight fascism in Spain (whose side would you have been on there Mr. Hawn?), they fought Nazism and Imperialism in World War Two. They would do so again, should the need arise. These wars, as this day is so often cited for, taught us to recognise the signs and symptoms that lead to mass horror. This is why, now, we on the left protest on campuses, burn flags, and write truth about the things our leaders do. We are the ones who issue the so often ignored calls to action. We are the ones who observe and warn about the folly of hobby wars that you conservatives seem to be so fond of lately. We are also the ones who end up facing gas-chambers and firing squads when people fond of uniforms and weapons gain political power. And you dare admonish us?

That you attack us today, suggests that three decades of your own service, tens of millions of dead of which I am sure you aware, taught you absolutely nothing. Go to hell, Mr. Hawn, and take your divisive gutter politics with you.

Postscript: Here's a list of other poems, Mr. Hawn, in case you're still making speeches this time next year.

(h/t Dr. Dawg, CC & M)

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