Saturday, July 01, 2006

Happy Canada Day! And...

Woo and hoo. It's the 139th anniversary of the signing of the British North American Act what made Canada a dominion in its own right. July 1st is Canada Day, a national holiday and cause for celebrations from coast to coast. There are celebrations from dawn til late at night, with sunrise ceremonies, and block parties, and BBQs and all kinds of shindigs, right up until nightfall when most cities celebrate with fireworks.

Born in New Brunswick, one of the three original provinces who signed the Act into being, I celebrated Canada Day enthusiastically until I moved to Newfoundland, the newest province, halfway through my life (so far). Formerly a British colony, Newfoundland joined Canada in 1949.

And that's where it gets tricky. Today is also the 90th aniversary of the Battles of the Somme and Beaumont Hamel. Up until 1949, July 1 was an official day of mourning for Newfoundlanders. During World War I, during the bloodbath that was the assault on the Somme, in slightly less than half an hour, the Royal Newfoundland Regiment was all but annihilatied at Beaumont Hamel on July 1, 1916.

Excerpt from The Somme, 1916, Newfoundland and The Great War
"When the roll call was taken, only 68 responded. The full cost would not be known for several days. The final figures revealed that the regiment had been virtually wiped out: 710 killed, wounded or missing."

There was hardly a family on this island not touched by this loss. With the passing of time, fewer and fewer of the people who remember this sad time remain, but you will still see homes around town flying the Union Jack in remembrance rather than the newer Canadian Flag in celebration.

I like to think, in my usual Pollyannaish fashion, that we can combine both occasions without diminishing either one. Those men fought so that we could remain independent. They, along with the other members of the Allied Forces who died that day and during the many other battles of that and the next war, made it possible for countries like Canada to be the self-governing entities they are today.

So while I celebrate Canada Day, I still remember the boys who gave their lives during what was not, sadly, as it was billed, the "war to end all wars."

So. Happy Canada Day! And don't forget the boys...

9 Comments:

Blogger nanuk said...

Happy Canada Day to you! It is a day of mixed feelings in Newfoundland, both for the memory of those valiant men who went over the trenches in the Somme, and also for those who still fundamentally disagree with confederation with Canada.

To the latter group I say "You're still my friends" although we disagree.

July 1, 2006 at 3:26 PM  
Blogger The Wrath of Dawn said...

Ah yes, there are those, too.

July 1, 2006 at 4:31 PM  
Blogger Mr. Fabulous said...

Very interesting. I think I am about to pay you the highest compliment I can think of. You have inspired me to learn more about this...

July 1, 2006 at 7:05 PM  
Blogger The Wrath of Dawn said...

Oh, dear. Now I'm assigning homework.

July 2, 2006 at 9:24 PM  
Anonymous Ricardipus, Canadian said...

...and right back atcha from the Central Part of the Country(TM) i.e. the Fascist Republic of Ontario(also TM).

Yes, I know fascists don't usually starts republics... hey I'm from Ontario, we don't know anything about politics here (clearly).

That is all.

July 4, 2006 at 11:08 AM  
Blogger The Wrath of Dawn said...

A fascist republic? Wouldn't that be Alberta?

July 4, 2006 at 11:12 AM  
Anonymous Ricardipus, pedantic again said...

"...like a true Newfoundlander..."

and

"Born in New Brunswick..."



Hmmmmm.

July 5, 2006 at 3:34 PM  
Blogger Anna said...

Happy Chainsaw Day! :o)

July 6, 2006 at 1:09 AM  
Blogger The Wrath of Dawn said...

WoD, pedantic, also, "...like a true Newfoundlander..." XX

Anna - Rrrrr! Rrrrr! Thanks! XOXO

July 6, 2006 at 9:25 AM  

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