Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Honouring the Dead, Hiding the Wounded

I'm glad Remembrance Day is over. Because it's one of my least favourite days of the year.

Oh sure I admit that I like seeing the old vets, and the sound of the bagpipes and the kiddies choir singing for the dead always makes tears run down my face. And I think it's important for a country to honour those who died with a maple leaf on their shoulder.

But the chaplins and their prayers turn my stomach. Religion and war are an ugly mix. Especially when one of the chaplins today was Rabbi Reuven Bulka...who believes being gay is a disease. Which made the religious drivel even more offensive than usual.

And I hate the jingoism that seems to have seized this country, the pro patria/Empire mori stuff of the First World War. The glorification of conflict in a nation of peacekeepers. And above all the comforting notion of noble and heroic death. As if they marched heroically into the sunset. As if every soldier that died was a hero. As if most young soldiers don't die screaming or moaning in agony, and calling for their mothers.

As if most deaths aren't mucky and messy.

And sometimes those that die are the lucky ones.

Over and over, Reyes screams "Mom!" at the top of his lungs. He asks for milk, and he wears a diaper. He plays with plastic figurines of such characters as Donatello from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the Undertaker from WWE. He's 25 years old and needs his mother now as much as he did as a young boy growing up on the Bronx streets, maybe more. She's begun to call him "Baby Bamm Bamm"—two years ago, his comrades called him Red Dog.

And that's all I want to say. Except repeat this post.

And wish that they'd stop hiding the wounded.

The wounded -- disabled physically or mentally, minus arms, legs, sight or hearing -- are the invisible victims of Canada’s war in Afghanistan. No wreaths will be laid today in their honor. No minute of silence to ponder the plight of the four soldiers hurt for every soldier killed in the five-year military mission.

The Department of National Defence doesn’t release their names, tends to delay or deny media attempts to interview the victims and only issues an actual count of those wounded on or off the battlefield once per year.

Because we need to take better care of them.

A lot of them are suffering in silence. PTSD is a real problem. For the dead the war ended the day they were killed. But for the wounded the war can go on forever.

If we really want to honour the dead. We should stop glorifying war so much. Eh?

And do more to help the LIVING...

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