Barking Kitten

Fiction, musings on literature, food writing, and the occasional Friday cat blog. For lovers of serious literature, cooking, and eating.

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Close to forty. Not cool. Politically left. Atheist. Happily married. No kids.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Remembrance Day

Hockeyman does not play hockey. Rather, he watches it. He is half-Canadian, so hockey plays a large part in his winter existence. As a Detroiter, I found his obssession pretty easy to accept. I would feel differently about football or golf, but hockey sucked me in. Now we're both fans.

After a few years of contending with American television's abysmal coverage, we finally got a satellite feed, and may watch, among other things, that venerable institution known as Hockey Night in Canada.

Watching Hockey Night in Canada, you may come away with the following assumptions about Canada:

1. Everybody offroads

2. Molson Canadian is THE beer.

3. There is little racial diversity in Canada.

4. You can buy damned near anything from Canadian Tire.

5. Don Cherry is insane.

You may also get the impression, game brutality aside, that Canadians live up to their "civilized" reputation. Cherry rails constantly about player behavior on and off-ice, insisting they adhere to a "code" of decency. A winning team should be gracious. The victory dances seen in football are to be avoided. When in public, wear a tie.

Watch enough Canadian hockey feeds and you'll realize that although the country is large, it is sparsely populated. The hockey community is sprawling but small: if a relative dies, expect to hear condolences on the air. When a young player suffered a severe injury last week, a call was put out to Canadians to contribute to his medical expenses. When they lose a soldier in Afghanistan, you'll hear his or her name on the air. Mind you, this is hockey, not the local news.

So it was last night that a commerical came on during the Calgary game. A series of natural disasters were depicted: flooding, forest fires, a commerical ship sinking. In each vignette a helicopter or firefighter or strong swimmer appeared and saved the day, literally grabbing people and pulling them to safety. Help in distress, the screen read. There were other words, which I cannot recall, but they were something like comfort for suffering, a hand in time of need.

It was an ad for the Canadian Armed Forces.

I sat there on the couch and thought about Hurricaine Katrina, and how our Army, ragtag by then, was deployed in time of need. And what little they did once in Louisiana. This led me to thinking about the veterans of Iraq, kids returning with rattled brains and mangled limbs and nightmares that will chase them for the remainder of their days. Bush and his loathsome crew have not only destroyed Iraq; they've wrecked the lives of numerous young Americans.

Regardless of how we feel about the war--and it seems most of us are finally getting the clue--we have an obligation to help these people. Their suffering transcends politcal leanings. If we ignore them--and I fear our government is doing just that--we will see them on the streets, just as we see the Viet Nam vets out there now.

Last Tuesday's happy results are the beginning of a long road back. And today, as we remember those who fought, for reasons good or bad, we might consider the Canadian notion of an armed force: a group of people intent on rescuing fellow citizens from drowning.

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