Deja Vu All Over Again

July 6, 2010 § 1 Comment

My wife and I were visiting my Mother-in-Law and other family in Ripley, Ontario last week when I heard a thought-provoking statement that jolted me out of my seat.

They were busy sorting through some genealogical documents when Joyce’s mother came across a photo of her late brother. Gordon Berry McGuire died 66 years ago this month in World War II.

She paused and remarked, “We never learn, do we?”

Indeed, it seems the world has not progressed a lot from what one would have hoped could have ended global conflicts.

There’s been virtually ongoing unrest around the world in the interim. This has ranged from religious-based upheaval in Northern Ireland to larger scale fighting involving several nations such as the Gulf War.

Gunner McGuire, a member of the Royal Canadian Artillery, died in action on July 11, 1944 and is buried in the Canadian War Cemetery in Beny-Sur-Mer, France. He was 25.

Mickey, as he was known to his troop mates, inadvertently picked up an activated grenade, left behind by the retreating Germans. Sounds very similar to the roadside bomb casualties we hear from the ongoing Afghan war.

At times like this, I hear the words of John Forgerty’s song Deja Vu (All Over Again), produced in 2004, comparing the Iraq War with Viet Nam, chiming through my ears.

Joyce’s Uncle Gordon is laid to rest in a graveyard with more than 2,000 other fallen soldiers from Canada and other Allied countries.

He is among about 200 men who perished in World War II from Huron County alone.

In June, Canada passed the 150-mark in losses in the Afghan War. We are supposed to be withdrawing in 2011, although I suspect our military involvement will continue beyond next year. Our pullout can’t come soon enough for me.

Our role in rebuilding the war-stricken country gets lost on what seems to be almost daily news that more of our soldiers have been killed.

The most heart-wrenching stories are those where we hear the soldier is just days away from returning home from a tour of duty. They are a husband, wife, son, daughter, mother, father, or brother or sister.

For a country with a relatively small population, Canada has a glorious war history, particularly for courage in specific significant battles and for our significant participation in freeing Paris and Holland in World War II. This year also marks the 100th anniversary of the Canadian Navy.

The Dutch remember Canada fondly to this day for our soldiers’ role in returning their country to them.

In the Second World War, Canada joined forces with the Allies to defeat the Nazis. We would also take engage in the Korean War. Canada participated in the first Gulf War but declined to in the second.

Since the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour, there is reason to suggest the Nazis and the Axis Allied countries might have attempted some kind of global domination if they’d been successful in their advances.

It’s always difficult to determine how and when Canada should be involved in conflict on the world basis since only once has our own country ever been under attack.

In the War of 1812-1814, combined forces of British and colonial Canadian residents and Native Canadians defeated intruding Americans.

Now, Canada is viewed as a world leader 143 years after confederation.

I am not here to point fingers as to who is right or wrong in disputes in other lands. Factions in those nations believe in the rightness of their respective positions.

Their arguments don’t make sense to me – but then I was brought up to value life, my own and the lives of other people. I can feature risking my life to save a loved one. It would never occur to me to list Suicide Bomber on my business card.

It still galls me when Canada enters these frays and loses lives when they are not defending our borders. I support our troops and understand that Canada is a world leader. But there is also no guaranteed end to our involvement in Afghanistan and I would not like being the one telling a family they have lost a loved one.

While our government makes decisions on what battles to engage in on the world stage, would it be right for another country to attack us because it disputed something we are doing?

What is the impact of deciding not to enter certain conflicts? We came out looking good by not joining in the Second Gulf War. Some question what the difference is between the war in Iraq and that in Afghanistan.

I am more concerned with the bigger picture – the prospect of a larger threat.

That is because Mary Black is correct. The world never seems to learn.

John Fogerty had it right, too – Deja Vu (All Over Again).

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§ One Response to Deja Vu All Over Again

  • Marcome says:

    If it’s of any consolation, one day I was talking about how slow humanity is learning to behave with my husband. My husband is a scientific and he brought me another perspective on this. Nature has millions of years of evolution, we humans have known agriculture for only 10 000 years. This is nothing. Yes things go slow but they move. Awareness is growing, this blog is a manifestation of this! We never had so much access to all sorts of knowledge base in the world. Do we learn? I like to believe we do, it’s just that life has its own rhythm and it’s seems too slow to be true.
    I choose to believe in us!

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