Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Fallen Heroes, Fallen Idols

Fallen Heroes, Fallen Idols

"PPCLI commanding officer Lt.-Col. David Anderson called Snyder a "soldier's soldier who always led from the front.""Given the opportunity, he would always lead his soldiers into harm's way."

So comes the eulogy for yet another of Canada's "fallen heroes" in the Afghan war. Anderson's comment  sounds incredibly stupid. To "lead someone into harm's way" is a common expression signifying an irresponsible and reprehensible action.  The C.O.  implies by it that Snyder was leading his men into unnecessary danger. Given that the poor fellow died after falling down a well during a night patrol, the connotations of the above comment are especially unfortunate. If his men had followed him into the well... well, let's not go there. 

     Let's not go there. That's what we should have said in the first place when an antiquated Nato treaty took the country into the dark abyss of this war many years ago. That was when we were all led into harm's way- by our "leaders." How many of these "fallen heroes" have we seen since then? The press keeps up the old hero routine for these young men but for the most part their deaths are anything but noble. Most seem to be the result of roadside bombs, land mines or even "friendly fire." In a war where ambush and sneak attacks are the order of the day, there's little opportunity for the old "above and beyond" type of valor. Still the press has to do its duty by the families if not by the nation by eulogizing one and all up on the same dubious pedestal. It's only when a son dies under some distressingly awkward circumstances such as those of Snyder that the families begin to mutter any reservations about the overall operation of the war itself. To perish in the heat of battle burns away any tarnish on the motives behind the battle. Even criminals get a grudging kind of adulation from us if they go down fighting. But to be laid low by way of some banal accident or freak of nature ten thousand miles from home really does bring home the stupendous pointlessness of it all.


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