There has been a surprising amount of ink and airtime given to the line in yesterday’s throne speech which stated, “Our Government will also ask Parliament to examine the original gender-neutral wording of the national anthem.” The reference apparently is to the phrase, “…in all thy sons command …” [emphasis mine].
Many conservatives and Conservatives are taken aback and don’t want to see the anthem changed. Others claim its much to-do about nothing and that it’s a trivial distraction from much more important issues. Still others make jokes about the need for change and what the change might be.
I recently had reason to recall the death in Afghanistan last year of Trooper Karine Blais, who died in a roadside bomb explosion near Kandahar City. And today I wonder—when she or her female comrades in arms stood proudly at attention while the anthem played—did just a very tiny part of any of them question why the anthem could not have explicitly included her with more gender-inclusive wording?
I remember how proud I felt when I stood in a Canadian uniform and saluted the flag or listened to the anthem. Never did I have the slightest shadow of doubt about who was being represented by those symbols. And it would break my heart to think that some young woman wearing our uniform felt that the words of the anthem symbolically excluded her, especially if she were about to lay down her life for Canada. Symbols such as flags and anthems have far more meaning when you face the possibility of dying for them.
For me, if a minor word change can for just a single Canadian eliminate even a shadow of doubt over who is symbolically represented in our anthem, then make the change.
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© 2010 Russell G. Campbell
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