July 1st in Canada means Canada Day, Canada’s birthday as a confederation of North American Provinces.
On a recent visit to the border crossing leading to Blaine, Washington, my wife and I took some time to visit the beautiful Peace Arch monument, the centerpiece of Peace Arch Park. I was caught off-guard by how moving an experience I found it to be, and frequently had to choke back a few tears. Canadians are so blessed to be neighbors of the United States of America.
The Peace Arch is the world's first monument to peace. Sam Hill, a prominent American businessman, conceived the idea of the Arch. Mr. Hill laid a hollow cornerstone within which he placed a hammered steel box made from the steel of a captured slave ship. Inside the box, he placed a piece of the Beaver and the Mayflower. The Arch was fitted with two iron gates, leaving them open to symbolize peace between the two great nations.
It’s no secret that many of my fellow Canadians hate the United States of America, and no, hate is not too strong a word. Theirs is not a gentlemanly disagreement, but deep-rooted hate. Nor a sibling rivalry, but outright hatred. It has not always been so; standing in the shadow of the Peace Arch monument, we could see proof that once upon a time, Canada was a good neighbor, and that many Canadians sincerely appreciated the greatness of the neighbor we have on our southern borders.
Two beliefs decorate the top of the monument: on the Canadian side, we can read "BRETHREN DWELLING TOGETHER IN UNITY." On the side facing the United States are the words, "CHILDREN OF A COMMON MOTHER."
These beliefs are currently under attack in Canada, and have been for as long as I've been alive. Living in Canada, it is an ongoing challenge to retain a favorable view of the United States of America. Every day we are bombarded by attempts to convince Canadians that our US neighbor is actually some kind of greedy adversary, populated by unsophisticated war-mongers, plotting to alternatively enslave or destroy the world. The message never lets up; whether you’re a child in school, or an adult at work, every day requires a considerable act of will to resist the siren song that lures us to believe in a monstrous lie.
Dispelling the lie is made much easier by a simple trip to the Peace Arch.
The very existence of the Peace Arch disproves much of the lies that Canadians delude themselves with about the US. America does yearn to live in peace with others, as established by the obvious fact that there are no yank tank divisions camped along our borders. They could grind us into dust, such is their nation's power; yet they do not, and it’s obvious that deep down we know they won’t, because we have no armies on our side to keep them at bay should they try it. For all the braying that Canadians make about US “war-mongering invasions", what nation in the world would be easier for them to invade than our own?
Researching the Peace Arch reminded me yet again of what makes America so great, and why Canada is so blessed to live in its shadow. The monument was only one of a series of accomplishments achieved by Sam Hill, one of those average Americans that no one ever hears about, only because the number of even greater names runs so long:
Samuel Hill [1857-1931] made the Northwest his home for a little more than 30 years, leaving a legacy of philanthropy, monuments, and highways still visible in the twenty-first century. He made a small fortune in utilities and investments and spent most of it on other people, on causes and programs he believed in, and in traveling the world to promote peaceful trade and prosperity.
Like most Americans, he believed in the value of interaction and trade, treating wealth as something that can be infinitely re-created, rather than something finite to be divided. From Wikipedia:
....Much of Hill's attention was devoted to advocating good roads in Washington, a task for which he created the Washington State Good Roads Association. He persuaded the state legislature to create a state highway department, and the University of Washington to establish the United States' first chair in highway engineering.
In order to fulfill his dream to build the Peace Arch monument, Hill didn’t siphon the necessary money through the self-righteous theft of NEA or Canada Council tax money; he earned it the hard way, through personal initiative, making personal appeals to fellow average citizens to band together and participate in meeting shared objectives:
The park surrounding the Arch on either side was supported by donations of schoolchildren from the Province of British Columbia and the State of Washington. Contributions were limited to "a silver dime" during that Great Depression era. Many children could donate but a penny. …
Especially moving are the symbols of the open gates within the arch itself. Part of the exceptionalism of America is its treatment of its northern neighbor. How many nations share even a fraction of the trust that animates US-Canadian relations? We do not scheme of looting each other's wealth, we dream of ways to increase each other's wealth, through mutual advantage:
The Peace Arch commemorates international concord established by the Treaty of Ghent signed Christmas Eve, 1814, in which the desire of the signatories is expressed for a "firm and lasting peace." The portal proclaims the established peace has never been broken.
The Peace Arch also commemorates the Rush-Bagot Agreement entered into by his Majesty King George III and President James Monroe by virtue of the provisions and spirit whereby the line from the Bay of Fundy to the Straits of Juan de Fuca has been neither garrisoned nor fortified since 1817.
What makes a visit to the Peace Arch a bittersweet experience is the realization that the past is not automatically the future. The mutual peace that ennobles both Canada and the United States of America, and has symbolized what makes us so much better than any other neighboring pair of nations, requires an act of will to maintain. This greatness rests upon an act of faith, faith in common goals, derived from a recognition of our common traditions. By "faith" I mean, the act of seeing the unseen, the act of imagining something that does not exist, yet, but could, and working towards its arrival. In the case of our shared border, and shared experiences, Canadians must resist the pressures of the socialist left, who would have us believe that both we and our neighbors are incapable of trade for mutual advantage, partnership built on mutual trust, and accomplishments for mutual good. They project their own lack of faith and lack of ability to trust, onto the US; we must resist their false vision of our partnership with the US, and keep our time-honored bond of national friendship.
It is not a one-time act, having been accomplished in the distant past, now to be forgotten. This common bond must be continually re-created and re-affirmed, so that the increasing cries of the unfaithful left, can be drowned out for the admissions of envy, selfishness and sloth that they truly are.
On Canada Day, the anti-american propaganda tends to be at its highest pitch; therefore I felt it necessary to match it with a song of my own, to defend the greatness of our neighbor, the USA. True to form, the leftists even try to divide greatness, as they do our wealth; for Canada to be great, they believe, America must be made that much less great, in order for one side to be elevated the other must be lessened.
This is one Canadian who resists this temptation, and has the humility to believe in an expanding greatness of unlimited opportunity.
On this day, Canada Day, more than other day, we Canadians can show our greatness by demonstrating our gratitude to our neighbors to the south, for the mutual peace we have agreed to recognize, and the opportunity for independant greatness that America has granted us.
God Keep Our Land Glorious And Free.
God Bless America.