LETTER: We ought to feel guilty as we remember the fallen

Reader Don DeMille writes that we should feel guilty as well as grateful for the sacrifices made by so many.

Don DeMille’s father (bottom row

“A year from now half of you will be dead,” said Bomber Harris to my father’s RCAF squadron 408.

“He got our attention,” Pop said.

Clive Arkoll Bolton of Russell, Manitoba was the only one of Dad’s crew to die, when he took a flight with another crew. At every memorial service I attend, when we sing our national anthem, the words in my head are: “Oh, Canada! How could you possibly find it acceptable to send my father and his buddies off, fully knowing they had a 50 per cent chance (half Kamikaze) of dying?”

Young Clive, a wonderful, handsome character whom Dad was very close to, popular with the girls, lies in a cold grave in a British cemetery in Germany. After every bomb- ing run, Dad would look out over empty table after empty table where fellows he knew well had dined the day before.

It is a tragedy when someone is killed in traffic. It is murder when they’re pushed into it. Dad wasn’t drafted, but some were into the army. Canadian women waved white feathers under the noses of men on the street out of uniform – some of whom were home on leave – to goad them into war.

They died for us, but we killed them by asking, forcing, expecting or shaming them into walking, flying or sailing into certain grave danger; and we should feel guilty as well as grateful. Otherwise, Remembrance Day is just a celebration of the necessity and effectiveness of war; of human sacrifice – our ancient, ultimately cannibalistic lust – to lubricate the cogs of our “interests” abroad with expendable blood, gladly offered by those of both genders who will not shed a single drop of their own.

We should equally remember each November those we also killed on the other side. We don’t, but the veterans we solely honour do.

“I hope we never go to war with Germany again,” an old WWII soldier said to me. “You know why?”

“No.”

“Because they’re too goddamn good at it.”

Long-time North Delta resident Arnie Knudsen, whom we lost just a few years ago, – a veteran of the Spanish civil war and an unappreciated “D-Day Dodger” (Italy WWII) – pulled a picture he always carried with him of a young German officer who looked like a really nice guy from his wallet to show me. Arnie took it off the man’s body after he shot him as he came around the corner of a building in an Italian town and lifted his rifle a little slower.

“Good-lookin’ fella, eh?”

WWI soldiers played soccer, sang, drank and exchanged gifts with the enemy between, and sometimes even in, each other’s trenches during short, unofficial truces at Christmas.

When Dad was stationed at 3 Wing, the RCAF station at Zwiebrucken, Germany, 14 years after the war, many towns still had large areas of crumbled brick from the Allied bombing he and his fellows had participated in. (Dad took part in the firebombing of many German cities, including Hamburg, and bombed several French towns after D-Day.)

The Germans we slaughtered millions of – whom had been our irredeemable, loathed, arch enemies – were to my naïve, youthful surprise wonderful people who freely accessed the air force base, skated at the base rink, inter- married and were already our close friends and allies.

And one of our most important and vital WWII allies – who lost many, many millions more than any other country in our joint struggle – was manufactured into our despised and equally “evil” – indeed Satanic – arch enemy almost the second we stopped killing Germans. Even as a kid, I knew there was something very wrong, contrived, and disingenuous about the way we carry out both war and peace at our colossal expense.

America’s next War President will be asking soon for our help. And almost certainly we will say yes.

Don DeMille, via email

Just Posted

Police use lacrosse sticks to rescue ducklings from Delta storm drain

Delta police rescued five of six ducklings found in a Highway 17 storm drain on June 21

White Rock council opts for compromise in waterfront parking fee increase

Amendment calls for hourly rates of $3.75 instead of $4 from April to September

PHOTOS: Racers, fans and actor Neal McDonough attend Tsawwassen Soap Box Derby

The fourth annual rotary club derby took place along 6th Avenue on June 22

Surrey RCMP raises Pride flag Monday amid din of protesters

There were about 30 protesters on either side, and 20 Mounties doing crowd control

Astronaut David Saint-Jacques returns to Earth, sets Canadian space record

Native of Saint-Lambert, Que., set a record for longest single spaceflight by a Canadian at 204 days

Rising gas prices force B.C. residents rethink summer road trips

63 per cent of respondents reported gas prices are impacting their day-to-day finances

PHOTO: Moose cow and calf relax in Williams Lake flower garden

The homeowners got a surprise when they checked their most recent surveillance footage

Two in hospital after plane crashes in Okanagan Lake

RCMP say wheels left down caused landing plane to overturn on lake

Eight in hospital after two crashes on Coquihalla Highway north of Merritt

Drivers are expected to be stuck for up to 90 minutes

The world’s Indigenous speakers gather in B.C.’s capital to revitalize languages

Organizers estimate about 1,000 delegates from 20 countries will be at the conference

Join talks on international treaty: B.C. First Nations mark ‘historic moment’

Representatives of the Ktunaxa, Syilx/Okanagan and Secwepemc Nations participated

Companies need clearer rules on workplace relationships, study suggests

One-third of Canadians have been in love at work, and half say no policy on the matter exists

Grey-haired bank robber hit with dye pack in Langley heist

Police are looking for an older man who may be stained with dye

Most Read