Sunday, April 3, 2016

War Memorials ... What are We to Remember?

Hello everyone,

I hope this note finds you all well.

This post is on a rather different topic than usual. On Apr 2, 2016, I wrote to our Mayor and Councillors.

A report to Community and Protective Services Committee on Wednesday, March 3 - LAVIII Public Art Monument - recommends funding up to $100,000 to be "drawn from the City of London Public Art Acquisition Reserve Fund" for purchase of a LAV war vehicle, to become a war memorial at Wolseley Barracks.

In my own opinion, an object phrased as having "unsurpassed lethality" and described as "formidable and dominates the battlefield" is not an art piece.  Those phrases come directly from the General Dynamics website, advertising the merits of their products.

I urge all members of City Council to vote against spending City funds to purchase a weapon to be used as a war memorial.

Ursula Franklin once wrote that "violence is resourcelessness".  She has written and spoken about "the futility of war and the connection between peace and social justice", and has been an active member of the Canadian Voice of Women for Peace.

I'm sure she would challenge London Council to come up with a more resourceful way to remember soldiers killed in war ... and perhaps to come up with a memorial that indicates that the lives sacrificed by Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan were related to lives lost and livelihoods destroyed of the people in that country.

War is not a series of isolated soldiers.  Canadian lives lost in a war elsewhere do not give us permission to forget the people of that other country.

A thoughtful expression of it being wrong to spend any money on such a vehicle for a monument is in Larry Cornies article, printed in Saturday's London National Post (er Free Press)  ... but, notably, not on the website.  I urge you to read it and consider.

Another London Free Press article reported that all members of CPSC voted for this.
I hope that all Councillors next week will vote against City funds to purchase a lethal weapon for a monument, and will request that any monument meet Franklin's challenge.

One councillor wrote back to let me know he had recused his vote at Committee because he is in the Canadian Armed Forces.  I wrote him back, of course.  

My late father was in the British army for 14 years, about 1937 to 1951, serving in Egypt, Malta, and what was for his time Palestine.  My Dad almost never spoke about his time in the army, but I remember turning around one time when a war movie was on tv and he had tears in his eyes.  He said sometimes, when a news item came on, that people never thought what war did to the people living in the country where the fighting happened.  My mother's first fiance was a Canadian pilot, killed within the first year of WWII.  Dad never bothered her to get rid of his photo, which she kept in the bottom drawer of the dining room buffet; I still have that photo.

So, in my experience, remembering soldiers and people of the war zone is connected.  I hadn't even recalled these things until the recent news items ... and have seldom had a reaction to anything as viscerally as the thought of another memorial tank.  (And I hate those guns pointed out from Provost by the river forks.)

Thanks for the ear everyone,

Best regards,

Why's Woman

Critics of LAV memorial stir political discomfort before Tuesday decision