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Saturday, September 25, 2004

Monumental Stupidity

NELSON, British Columbia -- Plans for a bronze monument and festival to honor U.S. draft dodgers in 2006 in this picturesque lakeside town have generated a wave of anger in the United States, local officials say.

Reports on the plan were provided to news organizations earlier this month by The Canadian Press and The Associated Press, and angry responses began pouring in after a feature was broadcast Monday by Fox News cable television.

"We've been inundated with e-mails and phone calls," Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce manager Roy Heuckendorff said Tuesday. "With the exception of one e-mail from New York, they have all been very angry."


In announcing Our Way Home, a celebration set for July 8-9, 2006, director Isaac Romano said the purpose was to honor "the courageous legacy of Vietnam War resisters and the Canadians who helped them resettle in this country during that tumultuous era."

Also in the works: "Pol Park" - a family-oriented theme park featuring the Khmer Rouge rollercoaster, and interactive video displays for a fun filled trip through post-war Southeast Asia..

Posted by Kate McMillan on September 25, 2004 | Permalink


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We Viet Nam vets had surprising little animosity toward draft dodgers. Even those of us who volunteered.

However British Columbia's proposed monument goes far beyond a simple acknowledgement that some Americans did in fact move to Canada to dodge the draft.

I interpret it as an aggressive act with undertones of hostility. Sometimes Canada seems to go out of its way to display bad taste and unfriendliness.

Canada, you make life difficult for those of us who are trying to be your friends.

Posted by: Greg in Dallas | 2004-09-25 1:25:49 PM

Many Canadians move in the opposite direction of U.S. draft dodgers and head south. We have a special term for such Canadians: "successful".

Posted by: Ghost of a flea | 2004-09-25 3:03:03 PM


It looks like 12,000 Canadians served in the US military during the Vietnam War, with about 5,000 "in-country".

By comparison, there were 30,000 US draft dodgers.

Compare: 30,000 US draft dodgers for 200 million in population = 0.00015%

12,000 Canadian Soldiers in US military for 20 million population = 0.0006

Conclusion: Canadians were 4 times more likely to go south to fight than Americans were to come north to be a coward. They were also twice as likely to be sent to Vietnam.

Posted by: Scott | 2004-09-25 3:19:14 PM

Nelson should reconsider and stop this affair. Anti-Americanism cast on a pedestal; only in Canada. Are Canadian tax dollars being spent on this monument to stupidity? If a hit by the Jihadic terrorists is hatched here and carried out on the U.S.A., I shudder as to the response from the Americans.

Posted by: gg | 2004-09-25 3:25:03 PM

A few years ago, I snapped some photos of the Vietnam War memorial in Missoula, Montana. The central sculpture of the monument consists of an American soldier being borne heavenward by the Angel of Death. I intended to show people the beautiful landscaping and hundreds of rose bushes; what they invariably notice instead is that the soldier holds both American and Canadian flags. Apparently certain people in the U.S.A. haven't forgotten the Canadian contribution in that war.

Now, as usual, we go out of our way to antagonise our friends.

Posted by: Charles MacDonald | 2004-09-25 4:26:19 PM

Several posters have mentioned that a number of Canadians were in Viet Nam in a military capacity.

As a matter of interest, most of us in the military were very aware that Canadians served with us. It was fairly common knowledge, and we appreciated it.

My question is, why is Norman proposing to build a monument to American draft dodgers rather than Canadian heroes who brought honor to themselves and their country? After all, no Canadian was drafted. They chose military service out of their own courage and free will.

Although I never held it against draft dodgers for their choices, I certainly cannot imagine the motives involved in dreaming up a monument to them.

Posted by: Greg in Dallas | 2004-09-25 5:33:24 PM

A memorial to rich, white American men. Somehow I don't think the braindead organizers realize how bad this looks. They live in a delusional boomer world.

Posted by: Kathy | 2004-09-25 8:21:34 PM

I think those that want to build a monument to draft dodgers are not much different than those that want to criticize draft dodgers. Both groups value a "system" more than they do individualism and personal consience. For a very unprepared and rambling essay on this, see: http://ianism.com/?postid=182

Any nation that forces youth to fight for the battles of the nation's leaders values utterly and absolutely have no idea about true liberty.

Posted by: Ian Scott | 2004-09-26 3:57:15 AM

One thing I would like to be sure is clear, as I do not know about Canadians in the US miilitary.

The Canadians that I knew about and saw in Vietnam were Canadian soldiers in Canadian uniform serving under Canadian officers. They were not merely observers.

Posted by: Michael | 2004-09-26 9:22:34 AM

Anybody up for a little road trip to Nelson come summer 2006...?

Posted by: Kathy | 2004-09-26 9:46:17 AM

Ian wrote:

"I think those that want to build a monument to draft dodgers are not much different than those that want to criticize draft dodgers."

I'm not sure I follow you here. There is a vast difference between defending the choice of a draft dodger, and celebrating and congratulating it.

War monuments honour sacrifice, courage and dedication to duty. They are erected by the recipients of that sacrifice - the surviving comrades, civilian populations and grateful nations. And usually, they are dedicated to those who did not return.

Draft dodgers who fled to Canada to avoid service in Vietnam may have thought they made a hard decision, but one can safely argue that their "sacrifice" was of a significantly lesser order than those who fulfilled their duty, or those who chose to accept the legal consequences for conscientious objection at home.

This proposal meets none of the standards associated with such monuments, and the self-congratulatory fools who are erecting it to themselves deserve to be ridiculed.

Posted by: Kate | 2004-09-26 12:32:39 PM

Kate, I'm not sure I am following you now :) You quoted one part of my paragraph, and left the other part out about "Both groups value a "system" more than they do individualism and personal consience."

That last sentence (at least in my rushed writing) was an attempt to explain where I was coming from. How that first sentence that you quoted has anything to do with "defending the choice of a draft dodger, and celebrating and congratulating it," I'm not really sure.

Here's where I'm coming from: All drafts are wrong. And having said that, in NO way am I taking away from those who fought, died, were wounded, or suffered through the experience of war.

I especially do not understand a draft that was instituted in order to fight a war thousands of miles away from "home." Again, not taking away anything from those who fought in Nam. I've known some Canadian VN vets whom I admired very much, and respected that it was their choice to volunteer. As far as choice goes, they had far more choice than those who were unable to flee the draft.

Posted by: Ian Scott | 2004-09-26 3:21:55 PM

I focused on that sentence because you attempted to portray the two groups as having an equal moral standing on the issue. I thought it was absurd - these people are basically building a monument to themselves.

You also said "All drafts are wrong." and "I especially do not understand a draft that was instituted in order to fight a war thousands of miles away from "home."

You say this as though national defense is no more significant than going on a fishing expedition.

All our major wars to date (thank goodness) have been on foreign soil, and if we're smart, we'll make sure it stays that way. Waiting until the enemy is on your shores is not only suicidal, but it tends to alienate your allies.

Vietnam was not the first time a draft has been used - indeed, it was the norm at the time. Most countries invoked conscription in WWII and many countries require military service of their young citizens to this day.

As I become more concerned about Canad'a's inability to even patrol our own borders, (a question of population and geographic area as much as a funding issue), I'm beginning to think that the solution may be to invoke a term of mandatory military service here. A nation of trained citizen soldiers is far more secure, especially when there are huge territories to defend.

And, there is a dangerous ignorance and naivette in this country about the military history of Canada and the value of a well-equipped, well trained professional military. Mandatory service could go a long way in balancing the left-wing indoctrination of young people by the media and education system.

Posted by: Kate | 2004-09-26 4:21:49 PM

Ok.. I've written quite a lengthy response, but rather than post it here and profane the Western Standard's great blog with my blitherings, I've posted it on my site: http://ianism.com/?postid=183

Posted by: Ian Scott | 2004-09-26 6:08:32 PM

Viet Nam was a very ambiguous war. It's one reason I don't hold it against men who managed to skip out on the draft. (I volunteered.)

After I got out, I went to college on the GI Bill. I met a lot of guys who spent a lot of time trying to figure out some way to avoid serving. Some were my friends.

Here's the bottom line. I presume that people in Norman want to present draft dodgers as soldiers of conscience. I guess they want to see themselves as men who flew in the face of American authority to flout an immoral war. Men with a high calling, not afraid to make an unpopular decision. Men with the courage of their convictions. (Thousands of mini-Solzhenitsyns.)

All I can say is you may be able to sell that story somewhere, but don't try to sell it to me. I was there.

For every genuine conscientious objector, there were 800 or 900 guys who just didn't want to get their ass shot off. Nor did they want to have to endure a military environment where they would be screamed at and put under military discipline.

Hell, I don't blame them, none of us wanted to be screamed at or get our asses shot off either.

If you want to build a monument to your brinksmanship for out-slicking Uncle Sam and beating feet to Canada to dodge the draft, go ahead. I'll buy you a beer.

Just don't try to suggest that toughing it out in the wilds of beautiful Vancouver is something that should be memorialized. (I can't even get up there for a vacation.)

A lot of buddies from your high school graduating class never came back to aggrandize their egos. Maybe what you did can be overlooked, but you don't deserve to be rewarded.

If we, your peers, are willing to give you a pass, then the best thing you can do is say a little mental prayer of thanks and keep your mouth shut.

You don't get strokes for taking a powder.

Posted by: Greg in Dallas | 2004-09-26 8:12:14 PM

The monument is a moronic idea no matter what one thinks of 'Nam. As long it's paid for by private funds and is on somebody's private property (and this I do not know) then let it be. If the government has anything to do with this then right-minded people should take action to stop this embarassment.

Posted by: Michael Dabioch | 2004-09-26 8:49:47 PM

It is a little hard to even imagine a monument to draft dodgers, but I am sure if there is anywhere such things are thinkable, it must be Nelson.

I have an image of two hippies, toking on reefers, leaning out of their VW van, both with their hands out the window with a peace sign.

On the other hand, it seems very revisionist to attribute Pol Pots genocide to the desires of some to avoid being made into hamburger by the Viet Cong. I tend to think that the Nixon ordered bombing of Cambodia was a greater booster of Pol Pots cause than the draft dodgers.

Anyone know if there are any monuments in Canada to the Canadians who fought and died in Vietnam?

Posted by: bluebird | 2004-09-27 6:22:04 AM

I too, can hardly imagine a monument to draft dodgers. A bunch of long haired hippies smoking their shit.. or whatever.. maybe.

On the other hand, I'm finding it an awfully more hard time for those who want to criticize such a momument, then don't put their words where they're mouth is. Go. Why don't the critical ones just go.. go off and join the US Army, and volunteer for duty on the front lines in Iraq?

I look forward to all of my right wing blogging friends to tell me why they have not gone and volunteered in the US army. The US army WILL accept Canadian men and women. So if there are so many American "chickens" out there that we Canadians can criticize, how come the critics aren't down there, volunteering?

Let's start hearing the excuses now.. about how "high mindedeness" doesn't apply to those who live in Canada.

I'm looking forward to it:

Yes, all the colonial reasons why the critics can't join up. How blogging is more important than actually being there. Or whatever excuses any can find.

Posted by: Ian Scott | 2004-09-28 12:57:53 AM

"Mandatory service could go a long way in balancing the left-wing indoctrination of young people by the media and education system."

...by providing an equally repugnant right-wing indoctrination of young people?

I'm no military strategist, but I imagine the best defense force you can muster will be made up of people who voluntarily agree to join, not those who sign up under the threat of force by their own government. Conscription has got to be one of the most un-libertarian ideas I've ever heard of.

Posted by: Jay Jardine | 2004-09-28 7:12:58 AM

In a country where the population dutifully accepts that over 50% of their life's labours will be seized by the state to fund social welfare programs..

A suggestion that a mandatory year's service in the interest of national defense and citizen training for threat readiness is recieved with comparisons to slavery.

My comments about left-wing indoctrination stand, gentlemen.

Posted by: Kate | 2004-09-28 10:00:12 AM

Ian, I would be happy to share a foxhole with most of the Western Standard bloggers and posters.

However, I hope they stay right where they are and keep doing exactly what they are doing.

Conservative Canadian bloggers may be the only sane public voices in the whole country. They are the people who offer hope and possibility for a renewed US-Canadian alliance.

They are the ones who offer a voice for disenchanted conservatives who despair for their country.

They are the ones who bear witness to traditional morality sinking into the swamp.

They are the warning light calling attention to the inevitable consequences of socialism.

They are the ones who know who Canada's friends really are.

They are the ones who acknowledge a just cause and understand the price that must be paid to secure that cause.

They are Canada's real patriots and America's true friends.

My hope is that they stay right where they are. That's where we need them the most.

Posted by: Greg in Dallas | 2004-09-28 2:52:33 PM

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