As we edge ever closer to Canada’s Remembrance Day 2006, I take it upon myself to remember Canada’s Vietnam Veterans, as, if history is any kind of a teacher, Canada will give them not a crumb of respect for their service. This post was made at “Blatherings” on 10 February 2005:
It was like we came home as thieves in the night
Recently there was a snarky dialogue between the CBC’s Bob McKeown and Ann Coulter on a state sponsored television show called the The Fifth Estate. American Coulter reminded the Canadians of something they refuse to acknowledge; that their young citizens had served with the U.S. in Vietnam. Canadian bloggers have gone ballistic and attacked her as a liar and worse and have even attacked and disrespected the Canadian soldiers who fought in their behalf, against Communism. At Blogs Canada E-group there was the following comment from one of those “morally superior” Canadians: “Plus if I’m not mistaken, most of those thousands of Canadians were Aboriginals who signed up after being given a fantasyland pitch by US military recruiters.” made by Robert McClellan. Sounds to me like those tiresome “morally superior than the U.S.” Canadians do not consider that “Aboriginals” could even count as Canadians, much less Canadian troops.
As here in the US, at this very moment, we have brave young soldiers willing to sacrifice their lives to keep us (and Canada) free, I find such comments extremely offensive. As Americans, let us never see our battle weary soldiers return home as thieves in the night. I think Canada should be ashamed.
Dennis Thomson was twenty-one years old when he boarded a bus in Hamilton, Ontario to cross the international border at Buffalo and join the United States military. This was at the same time that thousands of American draft-dodgers and deserters were going north into Canada and being welcomed as heroes. However, most Americans viewed the border crossings a bit differently, as an old grizzled Marine said; “we sent them our worst and they sent us their best.”
“Thomson served two tours of duty as a combat medic in Vietnam, one in 1968 during the Tet Offensive and another in 1971. Between tours, he served in a med-evac hospital in Japan.
He has two answers for why he went to Vietnam. “Why not?” and more seriously, because he could not allow himself to sit back and let somebody else go instead.
He reaches back into his memory and recites an old Indian proverb: “We do not for ourselves alone, but die for others.”
“There’s a certain percentage of men who have the call, the call for freedom,” he says, “and that’s a good enough reason for anyone to do this.”
After the war, Dennis Thomson returned to Canada to live. On Memorial Day, 1999, he visited the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C. for the third time to read some of the 58,000 names etched there. He and some others placed small Maple Leaf flags along the walls where the names of Canadians appear. He said “This is the American way of saying, ‘lest we forget‘.” He said that despite all the medals and ribbons awarded, none of the Canadian Vietnam veterans ever received any official recognition of their service from either the Canadian or U.S. government. “We never got a parade when we got home all we had was our brothers,” he said. “It was like we came home as thieves in the night“.
Canadian Hawks Fly South