War, con­flict, sac­ri­fice

Stanstead Journal - - EDITORIAL -

We­have gone through two week­ends of Re­mem­brance Day cel­e­bra­tions, less and less of the ‘real’ war Vet­er­ans at­tend­ing. By ‘real’ wars we mean the one that was to end all wars and for which, on Novem­ber 11th at the eleventh hour, we pause for two min­utes. And then the sec­ond one, which ush­ered in the modern era.

So in a way, those who can stand and pa­rade are from what is no longer called war, but con­flict.

Yet, one doesn’t see too many Blue Berets of the Peace­keep­ers at Re­mem­brance Day. We should; they are Canada’s con­tri­bu­tion to World Peace, with a great con­ver­gence of Cana­di­ans at the right place and the right time, with a lo­cal an­gle to boot. It was dur­ing the reign of Comp­ton born Louis Saint-lau­rent that his Sec­re­tary of State for Ex­ter­nal Af­fairs, Lester Pear­son, changed for­ever the rules of war. From then on, the World’s po­lit­i­cal body, the United Na­tions, could in­ter­vene be­tween bel­liger­ents. And so the Peace­keep­ers were cre­ated. It helped that an­other Cana­dian, Gen­eral Tommy Burns, was al­ready at the United Na­tions. For this, Lester Pear­son won Canada’s only No­bel Peace Prize. Cana­di­ans were not so gen­er­ous for Mr. Saint-lau­rent’s govern­ment; it was de­feated, mark­ing the end of twenty-two years of Lib­eral rule.

Be­cause they are no longer wars, these con­flicts have be­come im­per­sonal; a con­flict doesn’t in­volve a coun­try, but its mil­i­tary, no longer un­der a Depart­ment of War, but of de­fense: Soldiers or Civil Ser­vants?

So it did bring into per­spec­tive what these ‘civil ser­vants’ are do­ing to­day to see a liv­ing ghost make his ap­pear­ance at two cel­e­bra­tions dur­ing the week end. Georgeville’s Lorne Waide, dressed up as a WWI sol­dier, re­minded all that the last vet­eran of the 19141918 war is now dead, that of the seven mil­lion mil­i­tary ca­su­al­ties, al­most 65,000 were Cana­di­ans, and that we should add the 2,000 peo­ple who died in the Halifax ex­plo­sion to that num­ber to re­mind our­selves that war doesn’t only kill soldiers. The young man is about the av­er­age age of those who never came back from that war, from the sec­ond one, from Korea, and from peace­keep­ing ac­tiv­i­ties.

That the peace­keep­ing ef­forts have brought us an al­most un­prece­dented era of global peace, con­flicts be­ing lo­cal and not global, that for any cred­i­ble in­ter­ven­tion the bless­ing of the United Na­tions is now oblig­a­tory, even for the Amer­i­cans, should never hin­der the fact that mil­lions of young men, and now thou­sands of young women, have sac­ri­ficed their lives so that we can en­joy what we cher­ish most.

The sec­ond sight that was com­fort­ing was the lay­ing of white crosses by chil­dren in front of the usual wreaths. Most did so with a solem­nity that was sur­pris­ing, stop­ping af­ter do­ing so, not at at­ten­tion as adults do, but sit­ting on the ground, look­ing at these crosses, the mon­u­ments. What can they think? A lot looked at Mr. Waide; he is a more nor­mal fig­ure than the old gen­tle­men, grand­fa­ther fig­ures, to them. The age of an older brother, a neigh­bour, a fa­vorite cousin who al­ways brings treats or who can play a video game with you.

We can change the word­ing, a war can be­come a con­flict, but the sac­ri­fice of those who are fight­ing is the same, what­ever the name. For hav­ing brought a liv­ing im­age of those who fought al­most a hun­dred years ago, for in­volv­ing the youth in the Re­mem­brance Day cer­e­monies in Hat­ley and Ayer’s Cliff, the Ayer’s Cliff Branch #128 of the Royal Cana­dian Le­gion must be com­mended. In the fall edi­tion of “The Stage­coach”, our Mayor, in a rather vague man­ner, urged cit­i­zens to ex­press their en­thu­si­asm for a pro­jected move of the Town Hall from its ac­tual lo­ca­tion to The Cul­tural Cen­ter, lo­cated at 10 Phelps Street. Weeks later, on Oc­to­ber 26th, I read in “Le Jour­nal de Ma­gog” that “mov­ing” was in the air at the Town Hall. I was up­set and an­gry that such news would come to the cit­i­zens of Stanstead via a Ma­gog news­pa­per. Fur­ther­more, I was more than a lit­tle con­cerned that the Town Hall was per­haps go­ing to be my new neigh­bour, that I, along with more than 20% of the pop­u­la­tion of Stanstead would be gath­er­ing our mail else­where, and that our once quiet res­i­den­tial street would be­come quite busy with traf­fic to and from a re­lo­cated Town Hall. The Town Hall, which is now highly vis­i­ble to both cit­i­zens and vis­i­tors to our town, would now be at a lo­ca­tion with lit­tle or no vis­i­bil­ity and park­ing for staff and vis­i­tors would also be less ac­ces­si­ble. As a re­spon­si­ble cit­i­zen, I then con­sulted the min­utes of the Town Coun­cil›s meet­ings (which are avail­able online). In said min­utes of the Town Coun­cil on Septem­ber 6th, 2011, Coun­seil­lère Michèle Richard ex­presses her de­sire that the lo­ca­tion of the Town Hall, be it 425 Duf­ferin or 10 Phelps be han­dled with ut­most prompt­ness and trans­parency. The next para­graph states that the Di­rec­tor Gen­eral had al­ready sub­mit­ted plans to each coun­cil­lor on June 30th, pre­pared by a de­signer, Jean-maxime Landry, but that it would now be ap­pro­pri­ate for funds to be avail­able for an eval­u­a­tion of the build­ing by an ar­chi­tect. There is no men­tion of costs to date nor men­tion of funds be­ing granted for the ar­chi­tect›s eval­u­a­tion. At the coun­cil meet­ing held on Novem­ber 7th, only 6 cit­i­zens were in at­ten­dance. As the econ­omy wors­ens, not only in Stanstead but in the coun­try as a whole. are there no con­cerned cit­i­zens wor­ried that the Town will spend money on a move which will prove not only costly, but ar­guably un­nec­es­sary. Are we ap­a­thetic or sim­ply in­dif­fer­ent? We are the 2nd most taxed mu­nic­i­pal­ity in our re­gion. Does any­one care that our taxes will pos­si­bly in­crease due to un­nec­es­sary ex­pen­di­tures? I care and I sin­cerely hope that there are oth­ers who do care and will ex­press in­ter­est in our mu­nic­i­pal af­fairs. Hey Stanstead­ers, do you care? Next town meet­ing is on De­cem­ber 5th at 7 pm. See you there. Frances Bo­nen­fant and

Louise Souligny Phelps Street, Stanstead

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