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Blue Blogging Soapbox
...rambling rants, thoughts and musings on mostly political topics - from your late night blogger.

Monday, April 24, 2006

The Great Flag Debate 
(en francais)

I'll offer a little context to my thoughts and opinions on this issue before I actually comment.

I spent 8 1/2 years in the Navy and left as a Master Seaman Naval Signalman. One function 0f the Signalman is to be the Ceremonial expert of the Navy. For those that might think that this is a trivial subject, there could be nothing further than the truth. Any ship, squadron, battalion or other formation within the military has at it's very core the foundation of tradition. At every level of training for Signalmen, the MINIMUM standard for any subject was 95%, with the exception of Ceremonial Procedures, which required a pass of 98%. The keeping of Naval traditions, as with any service, is done with the utmost care and respect.

Military traditions are formed over decades if not centuries. Most are ignored at your peril and rarely if ever changed. If change is ever considered, it is done with the basis of the tradition in mind and only after serious study and contemplation.

With the above in mind, I would suggest that the decision to lower the Canadian flag every time a soldier died in Afghanistan was a purely political move designed to show the Liberal party's "support" for the troops. As with most political moves of this nature, the deeper ramifications of the decision are usually not considered. Here are a couple of examples:

1. An Hercules pilot has a heart attack and dies shortly after returning from an Afghanistan flight;

2. A Sgt. in Petawawa is killed in an off base traffic accident while returning home after a days work training pers prior to deployment;

3. A Naval Captain dies at home of natural causes while sleeping.

With each of the above situations, there are appropriate customs and tradtions to be followed. With the Liberal's change of tradition, we are now left with a new decision. Which one of the above situations would rate the lowering of flags at all National buildings? All, none, some?

Are their deaths any more or less important than the death of someone in the Afghanistan theatre of operations? What is the new criteria to determine whether or not you rate the honour of a National flag lowering? Who makes that decision?

Imagine yourself as the spouse or relative of someone in the examples given above. What would your reaction be if the decision is not to lower the flags?

Regardless of my partisan political leanings, I fully support the current government's decision to return to the previous tradition. Within the military there is a time, place and reason for virutally everything that they do. Many of these reasons are based on the customs and traditions of a particular service or the military as a whole. They are not meant to be changed on a partisan whim or used as a political football. Return the tradition to whence it came and leave well enough alone.

Paul Synnott at 1:05 AM    | en francais | Go to Top|


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