Saturday, December 23, 2006

Promoting a Lie

Bush’s recent comments about wanting to increase the overall size of the US military reminded me of something that has annoyed me greatly. I’ll get to it shortly. But first, Canada doesn’t have a draft. Neither does the US right now. Every so often a bogus leaked report gets spammed around the Internet warning that the US draft will be reinstituted.
So far it’s been a hoax. But how does one increase the size of the military without a draft?
By getting more volunteers of course.
And that brings me to why I’m annoyed. Ever hear that ridiculous song-and-dance about Canada’s All-Volunteer Army? My country used to brag about it.
You see, back during WWII all our soldiers signed up. Yet we had conscription back then. That’s different from the draft because . . . um . . . because . . . “conscription” has 12 letters and “draft” only has five letters.
My dad was conscripted. He was 22 and single and exactly what Canada was looking for. So he went on his way to do his duty for his country. And when he got there he was given a piece of paper to sign. It said, “I volunteer.”
He did not sign.
“Because,” he said to me, “I didn’t volunteer.”
He was given three chances to buy into the Big Canadian Lie and three times he declined.
Dad told me that you weren’t punished for not signing, but neither were you promoted. Apparently one of the higher-ups suggested to him one day that he could go far in the army if he wanted. Well, that just wasn’t enough of a carrot.
So he led parades and became a driver for some higher-ranking fellow. He drove this fellow around BC selling Victory Bonds and got free beer out of the deal.
Not bad for refusing to lie.
I think it’s genetic. My Great-Grandfather Utas left Gammalsvenskby, a Swedish village in Ukraine, in 1886 over military duty.
Originally the settlers were told they wouldn’t have to serve in the Russian Army. When this changed he left. In fact, he was the first person from Gammalsvenskby to pack up his family and head for Canada because of it.
That’s not family lore. We had no clue why he left until we read Gammalsvenskby – the true story of the Swedish settlement in the Ukraine by Jörgen Hedman.
Good for him for taking a stand. We just don’t like to lie. We really don’t like to be lied to. And it’s extremely offensive when your own government does it and expects you to play along.

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