Friday, November 11, 2011

Remembering Remembrance: The Right To Dissent

This is my uncle Jack Gallagher who served in the Canadian Scottish Regiment during World War II and landed at Juno Beach, D-Day, June 6, 1944. We're still in touch and he recently sent me a message explaining what all his medals and decorations are, from left to right:
1. 39/45 Star - awarded for service in an active theater of operations;

2. Germany Star - awarded for active service in France or Germany;

3. Defense Medal - awarded to all Canadians serving overseas;

4. War Medal - awarded to all Canadians who served during the war;

5. Canadian Volunteer Service Medal and Clasp - awarded to all Canadians who volunteered for service during the war for at least eighteen months. The clasp was for service out of Canada. It was generally known as the AFM with the Piccadilly Clasp (Away From Mom);

6. CD Canada Decoration - warded for twelve years military service including Militia;

7. COTC Belgian Croix de Guerre; awarded for my contribution on the Leopold Canal and other parts of Belgium;

8. Order of Leopold 11 avec palm - awarded for other service in Belium and Europe."
Jack and his comrades fought for a way of life they believed was worth sacrificing for and in the process, modeled a form of valour that continues to inspire. There's nobility and grace in putting your life on the line for freedom and justice. It's the long view, the same that moves people of conscience to take a stand for the good of future generations.

So it's not surprising to see other veterans like Sgt. Shamar Thomas, the US Marine who gave the New York cops a piece of his mind during an Occupy Wall Street demonstration, defending their right to protest:

Yesterday, Colin Powell expressed a similar view:
"Demonstrating like this is as American as apple pie. We’ve been marching up and down and demonstrating throughout our history...This is something that our political leaders need to think about. It isn’t enough just to scream at our Occupy Wall Street demonstrators — we need our political system to start reflecting this anger back into how do we fix it? How do we get the economy going again?"
The right to dissent is inseparable from the values my uncle Jack and others fought and died for. When I speak out, attend an Occupy event or simply question authority, I'm forever grateful for their sacrifice.

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