Saturday, July 01, 2006

Viet Cong & Beaver Trapper: Brothers in Arms

On this Canada Day I thought that I would share an interesting encounter I had with a fella from Vietnam one summer while I was working in the States.

Waiting in line with this Kiwi I was working with, we were kidding around and he began to tease me about being a Canuck. A Vietnamese gent behind me tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I was Canadian (and I most certainly am).

V- "You know, we two have a lot in common."
B- "Really? Why do you say that?"
V- (conspiratorial look around)"We are the only two countries to ever beat America at war."
B- "How do you. . .you mean the 'War of 1812'?"
V- "Yes. During the invasion we learned about your war, and how you were outnumbered, and how you won."
B- "Geez! Most kids in Canada don't know much about the 'War of 1812'--I'm very impressed!"
V- "We knew that if Canadians could beat the Americans, then we too could do it."
B- "Hell! We whooped 'em! The White House is white today because we sailed down to Washington and burned it!"
V- "YES! We two share a bond because of this."
B- "I appreciate that."

I've always loved that run-in, because: 1) I'm a huge War of 1812 buff; 2) I've always felt kids in Canadian schools should learn more about their short heritage in Canada--farther back than WWI & Confederation (although I think WWI is an pivotal moment in Canadian history--so is, I guess, Confederation). I mean, here we have a guy half a world away who likely possesses more knowledge, albeit for propaganda purposes, about a key moment in Canadian history than most contemporary school children.

To me, that's something to be very proud of. In a dark moment in Vietnamese history, gallant little Canada was a source of light and hope.

Totally radical!

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