Home > Uncategorized > Almost Falling for the Popular Wisdom

Almost Falling for the Popular Wisdom

April 26th, 2006

I try and stay away from issues military, mostly because I have a remarkable ignorance about things military. In fact, the main reason I brought Ron aboard was to have someone around that has some knowledge in that area. So I have spent the past few days listening to the arguments pro and contra raising/lowering the flag and letting reporters on to CFB Borden for the Repatriation Ceremony. I have thought it through, try to separate the chaff from the wheat, and managed to form an opinion.The flag flap was the easier of the two. Quite clearly the military brass, members of the military and former members seem to concur that Remembrance Day is the appropriate time to lower the flags to half-staff in commemoration of members of our services who have been lost while in our service.

The question of reporters at the Repatriation Ceremony has been a bit trickier. My initial reaction was to disagree with the Prime Minister on this one. The media belong, journaling the event for us all. That was yesterday. I read in all the papers about how the media is always respectful at these events, how they wouldn’t dare turn it into some sort of circus.

While I was reading, the media were busy turning into a circus. Dear MSM: standing on ladders at the fence taking pictures with super-telescopic lenses is not respectful. It isn’t whenever Madonna gets married; it isn’t at a Repatriation Ceremony. After seeing the pictures of the media standing in a line on their ladders, on top of the news vans, is there any doubt they would have hired helicopters to flyover and shoot their pictures if it wasn’t restricted air space?

However, I was still unsure until I read this quote from Garth Turner: “It would appear to me that a lot of people want to participate in the grieving vicariously…”

Vicarious grieving has become a de-rigueur thing in the past fifteen or twenty years. Many say it started with Princess Diana, but it started long before that: it just climaxed into inglorious spectacle with the death of the Princess. Whether it’s the walls of teddy bears when a tragedy occurs involving a child, or the online signing of condolences whenever a tragically newsworthy event occurs, people all too often ” participate in the grieving vicariously.”

Frankly, if that’s what this is about, if all this newsprint is being expended because people can’t have a symbolic teddy bear mountain outside CFB Borden, then I say ban the media, arrest them when they show up with step-ladders, and execute them when they whine about lack of access.

Leave the families, and the forces with a little dignity, even if you won’t do so for the rest of us.

Update: I made the right call on this one.


  1. Jack
    April 26th, 2006 at 15:33 | #1

    Good one – I linked to you.


    I liked the picture of the reporters along the fence.

    Take care and keep it coming.

  2. Brian
    April 26th, 2006 at 20:59 | #2

    Thanks Jack. Encouragement like this sure keeps me coming back.

    By the way, you provide a lot of traffic.

  3. CfSR
    April 27th, 2006 at 21:04 | #3

    As a general rule, I don’t have problem with excluding the media from the repatriation ceremony.

    Not all families want to have the media present at these sorts of events.

    The only way to protect those families, and not to impose making a decision at a difficult time of great personal loss, is to exclude the media from those cermonies.

    Families wishing to engage the media remain free to do so, outside of the ceremony, and the sensitivity of families seeking privacy is protected.

    I can live with that. I could also live with a discreet pool camera of the ceremony.

    I am, however, disappointed by the decision to not regularize lowering the flag on the Peace Tower.

    Lowering the flag is an appropriate demonstration of the value Canadians place on life and that the loss of a life, even of those in operations in a war zone, should be acknoledged and mourned.

    The Canadian military has lots of tradtions from previous wars.

    Some have, rightfully, been abandoned.

    Traditonally, Canada’s war dead have been buried near where they fell.

    Many young Canadians found their final resting place in a UN Cemetery in Korea.

    Canada’s dead from both world wars are buried in cemeterys maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission around the world.

    Canadian Boer War volunteers are buried in 51 sites across South Africa.

    There was no repatriation ceremony for Canadian war dead in any of these conflicts.

    But that has since changed. The repatriation ceremony is a newer tradition, but a tradition none-the-less.

    Like repatriation, lowering the Peace Tower flag could become an important public symbol too.

    We don’t need to be trapped in 80-year old “traditions”.

Comments are closed.