Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Remembering our Good Neighbors

Our scenic Stanley Park offers many stimulating sights for the curious visitor, if they have the patience to find them. As we approach Remembrance Day, I thought it fitting to spotlight a Vancouver memorial connected with the visit by US President Warren G. Harding, back in 1923. This marked the first time an American President officially visited his northern neighbor, and the remarks he delivered during that visit have much to say about neighbors, Covenants, and faith. But first, some personal observations.
It is no longer fashionable, it seems, to admire the United States of America, and Americans in general. I lost a couple of new friendships this past summer due to the depth of their anti-American sentiment... or perhaps I should say, due to the degree of my admiration for America. In the heat of our unexpected political argument, I let loose with a heartfelt declaration of my deep gratitude for our southern neighbor, listing off a quick rendition of the accomplishments that mark that country, in my judgment, as the greatest nation in recorded history. My short monologue ended with this summary: “Americans are the most decent and generous people in the world today. I would be proud to be American. God Bless America.”
The two recent university graduates were speechless. After a pregnant pause, one admitted that in all his life he had never heard anyone say the things I had just said. He had never met anyone who admitted they actually liked, let alone loved, America. We agreed to disagree about our views, but it seems that this disagreement entails shunning me for mine. Oh well.
In a world filled with genuine tyrants, not the make-believe bushitler McChimpy boogeymen the left prop up in order to avoid facing the true evil staining the globe today... with recent history filled with awful regimes killing more of their own citizens through repression than can happen in open warfare with neighboring nations, we Canadians are blessed indeed to be neighbors to the United States of America.
The fantasists on the left have as deep a faith in the general goodness of Americans as I do, for the very fact that if you drive around with a "9-11 was a conspiracy" sticker on your car, and don't expect to be hauled off to prison for it, that is a sign that you don't truly believe what your slogan proclaims. Murderous tyrants simply do not allow such freedoms to their subjects... or, as a rule, put up with it from those who live next door.
On Remembrance Day, as we remember our own who have sacrificed so much towards maintaining our continuing freedoms, we should spare a moment to remember the generosity of our American neighbors, and all that they have done, are doing, and likely will continue to do, on our behalf. May God Bless America, no matter what university graduates are told to think.

From the Harding memorial, his speech delivered on that long-ago day, July 26, 1923:

“What an object lesson of peace is shown today by our two countries to all the world. No grim-faced fortifications mar our frontiers, no huge battleships patrol our dividing waters, no stealthy spies lurk in our tranquil border hamlets. Only a scrap of paper recording hardly more than a simple understanding, safe-guards lives and properties on the Great Lakes, and only humble mile posts mark the inviolable boundary line for thousands of miles through farm and forest.
Our protection is in our fraternity, our armour is our faith; the tie that binds more firmly year by year is ever increasing acquaintance and comradeship through interchange of citizens and the compact is not of perishable parchment, but of fair and honorable dealing, which, God grant, shall continue for all time.”


Anonymous said...

I agree: America is a good country and a great neighbor. One of the features of my own country that frustrates me is that Canadians exude insecurity when discussing the US. A strong Canadian nationalist should see no use in denigrating America. It has faults. And the present administration has been more incompetent than many that preceded it. The way discussion of America tends to unfold in our national discourse is disappointing though. Those with a strong appreciation of their own country should be able to appreciate the good in others. But then again, I also like la République française, a position which often discredits one’s opinion of foreign countries.

Charles Henry said...

Thanks, Anonymous.
You are right to clarify that appreciating our neighbor does not entail a pretense that they are "perfect". And I too have my criticisms of the current Bush administration.
It is simply a case where the good the United States of America has done far, far outweighs the bad.
I wish their detractors would give them the credit they deserve for the good, as readily as they are to criticize the US for the bad. (or at least hold the enemy up to the same standards of villification!)

Anonymous said...

It's great if you can naturally love a place, but not at the exclusion of all other places. The U.S.A. is just one of many countries in the world. I'm personally glad that more and more Canadians aren't believing the lies we were told about the U.S.A. when we were younger.