1812

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1812

Ken Joyce
Ken Joyce

November 4th, 2008, 3:07 pm #1

Here is an interesting story about the War of 1812...

"Monument tweaks American noses on War of 1812"

http://www.canada.com/ottawacitizen/new ... fa&k=90987

Obviously we won the dang war or we would not be here today! I did some research on the conflict in College and noted that the British won more battles and several were of more strategic importance than those won by the Americans. I also think, but am not sure, that we occupied more US territory during that conflict than the other way around. Also it is a little known fact that, although the US likes to sing songs about the land defeat of the British at New Orleans, the Royal Navy decimated the US fleet during the period of this engagement. This left open the entire sea board of the US to British bombardment and invasion. ( This despite the war actually being over by that time) Attitudes on both sides are interesting. I noted that in our Parliament Buildings, the hall leading into the Library contains a plaque commemorating the war and our victories. It is conveniently hiding behind a door. Would not want to offend anyone. Typically Canadian.
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Christopher Ono
Christopher Ono

November 4th, 2008, 5:18 pm #2

I like Douglas Coupland in general, but am I a little curmudgeonly to think that the sort of playful winking humour implied by this monument is a little disrespectful?

I mean, what would people think if there was a WWII or Korean War monument done in this style (i.e. two toy soldiers, one Canadian standing and one German/North Korean/Chinese fallen.

I'm not talking about PC-ness here... I don't mind (and actually do find it a little amusing) the little tweak of the US in the monument; I just wonder if this doesn't do justice to the conflict.

There is actually an 1812 war memorial just down the street from my office on Portland St. in Toronto in Victoria Memorial Square at the corner of Portland and Wellington. Worth looking at if you're in the area.

Was a little saddened to read about the construction materials: "The two soldiers are made of Styrofoam over a steel armature, then blanketed with a resin hardcoat. They were built in Calgary, and transported on an open air flatbed truck to Toronto. The Monument to the War of 1812 cost about $500,000, and was commissioned by Malibu Investments, which developed the condominium."

Doesn't anyone do bronze anymore?

Still, better a tongue-in-cheek memorial to a largely forgotten war than no memorial at all, I guess.
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Michael Dorosh
Michael Dorosh

November 4th, 2008, 5:25 pm #3

Here is an interesting story about the War of 1812...

"Monument tweaks American noses on War of 1812"

http://www.canada.com/ottawacitizen/new ... fa&k=90987

Obviously we won the dang war or we would not be here today! I did some research on the conflict in College and noted that the British won more battles and several were of more strategic importance than those won by the Americans. I also think, but am not sure, that we occupied more US territory during that conflict than the other way around. Also it is a little known fact that, although the US likes to sing songs about the land defeat of the British at New Orleans, the Royal Navy decimated the US fleet during the period of this engagement. This left open the entire sea board of the US to British bombardment and invasion. ( This despite the war actually being over by that time) Attitudes on both sides are interesting. I noted that in our Parliament Buildings, the hall leading into the Library contains a plaque commemorating the war and our victories. It is conveniently hiding behind a door. Would not want to offend anyone. Typically Canadian.
...and I'm not sure we're getting closer to being on topic for this forum but I'll indulge this for now.

It's worthy of note that "American" forces in the Revolutionary War half a century earlier also performed generally abysmally compared to the "British." Plenty of tactical defeats for the men under Washington and yet they won the war.

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Ken Joyce
Ken Joyce

November 4th, 2008, 6:07 pm #4

Sorry Michael, yes this is not 20th Century.

That is true about the Revolution however without large scale French intervention, the Colonists would have been soundly defeated by the British. In the case of the Revolution, there was a single decisive engagement. I dont think there were any single actions in 1812-15 that could be considered decisive.

I just find it interesting that the Americans supposedly fought the revolution over taxes and representation. Once they won the war, it was your average poor colonist that got stuck with the bill. This amounted to taxes more than that originally imposed by the British. After all, the British only wanted the Colonists to pay their fair share in the cost of defending the colonies from the French. So the traitors in the Colonies not only ended up paying taxes far in excess of the British tax but they then had to ally themselves with the very enemy that helped them incur the original tax. In my opinion the american revolution was a farce and boiled down to a bunch of wealthy Colonists smelling opportunity. Liberty, Justice?? BS.
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Michael Dorosh
Michael Dorosh

November 4th, 2008, 7:19 pm #5

Interesting, but to tie this into the 20th Century theme, when do wars ever get fought for the reasons later ascribed to them?

Canadian farmers in 1939 didn't volunteer to end the Holocaust, but it's an easy peg to hang Canada's Second World War involvement on after the fact. It's a great justification for the cost and motivation.

Liberty, equality, fraternity - great notions, and our American cousins are expressing all that as we speak. They have a right to feel Cowpens and Yorktown were about that; the average rifleman at the Scheldt knew less about Auschwitz or the Jews than the average Minuteman knew about democracy.
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Bill A
Bill A

November 4th, 2008, 7:55 pm #6

But they were well informed about Nazism, the belief of Aryan superiority and the master race. History has made the Holocaust more cogent, but reading material from the times certainly indicates the contest between the ideals of democracy and freedom, and those of fascism.
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Christopher Ono
Christopher Ono

November 4th, 2008, 8:20 pm #7

Interesting, but to tie this into the 20th Century theme, when do wars ever get fought for the reasons later ascribed to them?

Canadian farmers in 1939 didn't volunteer to end the Holocaust, but it's an easy peg to hang Canada's Second World War involvement on after the fact. It's a great justification for the cost and motivation.

Liberty, equality, fraternity - great notions, and our American cousins are expressing all that as we speak. They have a right to feel Cowpens and Yorktown were about that; the average rifleman at the Scheldt knew less about Auschwitz or the Jews than the average Minuteman knew about democracy.
Let's see... motivations for signing up for the Second World in 1939, that I've heard of from books and contemporary accounts (in no particular order of precedence):

1. Feeling of duty/obligation to fight with/for the Empire
2. Desire to restore liberty to nations conquered by the Axis.
3. Excitement at prospect of adventure vs. boredom at home.
4. Peer pressure (everyone else doing it)
5. Eagerness to experience what their fathers had experienced in the First World War / prove themselves.
6. General hatred of Fascism/Racism embraced by Axis

Those are the reasons that come to mind, of those, number 1 is the one I recall reading most often in contemporary accounts, followed by 2. and 3. Often in interviews with veterans, you hear the wording: "It was what you did - what was expected of you." or "I don't really know... it was/felt like the right thing to do."
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Michael Dorosh
Michael Dorosh

November 4th, 2008, 8:20 pm #8

But they were well informed about Nazism, the belief of Aryan superiority and the master race. History has made the Holocaust more cogent, but reading material from the times certainly indicates the contest between the ideals of democracy and freedom, and those of fascism.
...only a writer on the level of a Farley Mowat would have you believe fascism was the only reason they signed up. They may have been informed but Herman Wouk aside, how many were dedicated enough to say they truly cared about the beliefs enough to put all other considerations aside.

Which isn't to suggest they weren't idealists or that you had to be a mercenary fighting in something like the Spanish Civil War to be considered pure of heart. Having read through some interviews in our regimental archives, I get the impression that very few guys joined up just to escape the Depression (a common myth) and quite a lot really did want to do something about things in Europe or help the "old country" in a time of need. But that was only a part of it, and it was mixed in with personal reasons - testing or proving one's self, staying with friends, adventure, travel, the usual "old lies."

I guess what I'm trying to say is that it was a complex situation for every individual, and a lot of the rationale for why they did what they did was actually recorded for posterity after the war. They didn't capture their feelings well on their attestation papers, and if anyone did go around to stop to examine the reasons why, I think the Army would have put a firm halt to that sort of thing as counter-productive! A true picture of motivations is something elusive, but of course, understanding why the Germans were doing what they were doing is even moreso.

I don't doubt that figuring out now centuries later what possessed the soldier of 1812 or 1775 to sign on the dotted line or make an X would be equally complex. I also wouldn't be inclined to dismiss it as BS, or if I did, I would be forced to admit that we're still doing the same things. It's part of the game.
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Michael Dorosh
Michael Dorosh

November 4th, 2008, 8:23 pm #9

Let's see... motivations for signing up for the Second World in 1939, that I've heard of from books and contemporary accounts (in no particular order of precedence):

1. Feeling of duty/obligation to fight with/for the Empire
2. Desire to restore liberty to nations conquered by the Axis.
3. Excitement at prospect of adventure vs. boredom at home.
4. Peer pressure (everyone else doing it)
5. Eagerness to experience what their fathers had experienced in the First World War / prove themselves.
6. General hatred of Fascism/Racism embraced by Axis

Those are the reasons that come to mind, of those, number 1 is the one I recall reading most often in contemporary accounts, followed by 2. and 3. Often in interviews with veterans, you hear the wording: "It was what you did - what was expected of you." or "I don't really know... it was/felt like the right thing to do."
It would appear I was posting while you were. Don't forget getting out of the soup kitchens, but this was apparently less common than is sometimes thought...otherwise, I think I must be reading the same books as you...
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Ken Joyce
Ken Joyce

November 5th, 2008, 1:50 pm #10

You are actually backing up my point Michael. I dont think anyone at the top of the revolutionary forces in the colonies cared a hoot about what the average Joe thought. If you read what I wrote, it was a select few at the top, in the know, who pulled the wool over the eyes of the average colonialist. That is the BS I am referring to. My other point was the fact that Britain had more in common with Liberty and Justice for all than the revolutionaries at that time and after. Therefore they were largely, in my opinion, fighting more for greed than Liberty. As I stated, the British were largely sympathetic to some of their complaints. Huge swaths of the population were loyalists, in the north and south. In reality, it was the revolutionaries who pushed Britain into war, not the other way around. To say there is no BS regarding the revolutionary war and its causes is uninformed. I think the US Civil War was simply a culmination of all that had gone wrong since the revolution.
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