In July, I visited Washington D.C. on a casual political pilgrimage. It was the only place to have a chat with Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson. Abe and Tommy were just fab with their advice and insights.
Washington is a most intriguing city. Thanks to the convergence of Virginia and Maryland, its urban planning is confusing. My GPS, a toy I’m not too fond of (I’d rather rely on my brain. It rarely fails me…debateable of course), had a hard time making sense of it. It took me 30 minutes to find my Best Western hotel in Georgetown.
We finally settled in and began to immediately absorb the gentle southern sensibility Washington exuded. I asked a few natives whether Maryland was “officially” a Southern state. They couldn’t answer me in the definite, what, with it being the capital and a “border” state during the Civil War.
There was too much to see and do in just one day and a half. We decided to take a trolley across down. It was the only realistic way to get a glimpse of the city. On and off we went the trolley and it was worth it. For next time, we know what and where we want to focus.
One of those spots is Arlington National Cemetery. Many Canadians probably never heard of it and if they have it was recently when it was announced Ted Kennedy (scratches head) was going to be buried there. Still scratching.
Washington and Canada have a special connection I discovered. Nationalists here, predictably, take a twisted pride in the fact we (well, technically the British) burned down the White House in 1812. However, on our trolley journey along Pennsylvania Ave., we discovered Canada’s embassy was located there as opposed to Embassy Row to “mark the special bond between the two countries” as the guide put it.
Makes sense to me. There is a special connection between Canada and the United States.
Arlington Cemetery, too, commemorates Canada. Specifically, its military heritage. While Canadian soldiers aren’t buried on Arlington’s hallowed grounds, our nation and flag are. It turns out, Americans fought under the Canadian flag during World War I and Mackenzie King, the long-serving Canadian Prime Minister, suggested in 1925 a memorial be built to remember this and President Calvin Coolidge obliged.
This became known as the Canadian Cross of Sacrifice. The monument was designed by Canadian Sir Reginald Bloomfield.
Canada has a proud military history and heritage. I visited the monuments dedicated to Canadians in Dieppe. France and the Netherlands, two nations liberated by Canada, have never forgotten our efforts and sacrifices.
Sadly, Canadians have. We’ve let our military pitifully whither and wallow into obscurity.
It’s a shame.