In the News
- Letter to the Editor to the Ottawa Citizen - January 10, 2007
- Globe and Mail story on Government not canceling plans for state funeral - January 5, 2007
Institute Petition Up-date News Release - January 4, 2007
- NOVEMBER 21, 2006 - PARLIAMENT UNANIMOUSLY PASSES MOTION TO HOLD A STATE
FUNERAL FOR THE LAST FIRST WORLD WAR VETERAN
- Chronicle Herald editorial on State Funeral petition - November 18, 2006
- Globe and Mail story on NDP motion for State Funeral - November 18, 2006
- Montreal Gazette editorial on State Funeral petition - November 14, 2006
- The Guardian editorial on State Funeral petition - November 14, 2006
- Globe and Mail story on petition passing 65,000 signatures - November 13, 2006
- Globe and Mail cover story on State Funeral - November 11, 2006
- Canadian Press story on survey results on State Funeral - November 11, 2006
- Dominion Institute State Funeral Poll Results - November 11, 2006
- Dominion Institute Petition Up-date News Release - November 11, 2006
- Waterloo Record op-ed on State Funeral petition - November 9, 2006
- Canadian Press story on government reaction to petition - November 8, 2006
- Dominion Institute Petition Up-date News Release - November 8, 2006
- Waterloo Record editorial on State Funeral petition - November 7, 2006
- Ottawa Sun editorial on State Funeral petition - November 7, 2006
- Globe and Mail op-ed on State Funeral petition - November 6, 2006
- Globe and Mail editorial on State Funeral petition - November 6, 2006
- Dominion Institute Petition Launch News Release - November 6, 2006
Only three veterans of First World War remain. They are Lloyd Clemett (106
years of age), John Babcock (also 106 years of age) and Percy Wilson (105
years of age).
These three men constitute our only living link to the
horrors and triumphs experienced by the more than half million Canadians who
served under arms between 1914 and 1918. Yet, to our national shame, the
proud history they embody is fast fading from Canadians' shared memory.
As polls undertaken by the Dominion Institute reveal, barely a third of our
fellow citizens can name the battle of Vimy Ridge as a key Canadian victory
in the First World War, even when the answer is hinted at in the question.
One in four respondents thought Douglas Macarthur, not Sir Arthur Currie,
was a great Canadian general in World War One; a result that reveals a
stunning lack of awareness of both chronology and nationality. Equally
disconcerting, less than half of 18 to 24 year olds surveyed were familiar
with Lieutenant Colonel John McRae's immortal (or maybe not) war poem, In Flanders
Why do we seem doomed to forget a war that is as important to understanding
Canada's journey from colony to nation state as, say, the American
Revolution is to the history of the United States?
From the Great War onwards, it has been the veterans, more than anyone else,
who have ensured the country understood the link between our military
heritage and hard-won nationhood. Through their once million-strong national
associations, such as the Royal Canadian Legion, annual Vimy dinners,
overseas pilgrimages, and unremitting volunteer work, veterans have kept the
traditions of Remembrance alive in communities large and small.
Now, not only are the Great War veterans disappearing, but their sons and
daughters who served in the Second World War are, on average, 86 years of
age. Of these 200,000 veterans alive today, more than five hundred pass on
each week; an attrition rate greater than during the War itself.
The difficult truth is that the entire history of Canada's participation in
the wars of the 20th century, especially the Great War, is rapidly slipping
out of the realm of lived experience and into the fuzzy world of second- and
third-hand memories, to be passed along, or not, to the next generation.
A national gesture needs to be made to mark this watershed moment.
The Dominion Institute is calling on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to offer
the family of the last Great War veteran resident in Canada a full State
Funeral. For a nation in urgent need of renewing the commitment it made at
the end of the Great War to "never forget", a State Funeral would allow
Canadians to come together to honour those who died, and accept, on their
behalf, the responsibly to keep their memories alive.
Detractors will say that State Funerals are only for Governors General and
Prime Ministers, or that they are designed to commemorate the life of an
individual and not an event such as the Great War.
We say for once let's cast off the usual Canadian timidity and
understatement when it comes to celebrating our past. If there ever was a
time for our nation to be bold and generous in the commemoration of our
history, traditions, and values, surely the passing of our last Great War
veteran is that moment.
The death of the last Great War veteran will be a litmus test for Canada.
Are we, in the final analysis, a mature country that understands the value
of honouring the sacrifices made by past generations to secure for Canada
the future we now enjoy? Or have we become a nation of amnesiacs all too
ready to sweep the Great War and its legacy into the proverbial dustbin?
History will soon be our judge.
The Dominion Institute
November 6, 2006