London's yellow ribbon quandary

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

September 18, 2007 Ed Cartoon

Last night, the City of London voted on an initiative to equip all city vehicles with yellow “Support Our Troops” ribbons.

The issue raises a number of questions: should London be taking a political stance, and if so, should they be openly supporting it?

The ribbons could send the message that municipal workers support the government and its initiatives in Afghanistan, a label some may not like to possess.

While it might be unreasonable to suppose each member of the city’s work force agrees with the slogan, the ribbons at least suggest that the city’s workers and citizens in general support Canadian troops.

There’s likely a distinction to be drawn, though, between supporting Canada’s troops and supporting the country’s campaigns abroad. People join the army for a host of reasons " among them money, education and a desire for discipline " and the military takes on a number of projects away from the battlefield such as relief aid during crises.

There is certainly an inference to be made between the troops and the country’s war efforts, but it still remains to be seen whether there is anything wrong with supporting the efforts " we live in a country where we have the privilege to choose to join the army largely because so many others did decades ago.

However, enough London residents do not support the war in Afghanistan, and as such it is problematic to paint the entire city with the same brush.

As well, support of federal initiatives may be something municipal governments should refrain from " the military isn’t exactly under Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco Best’s jurisdiction.

Regardless of whether the statement to support our troops is right or wrong, there may be better ways to get the message across. Initiatives such as war bonds have been a good way of showing support in the past, and avoid involving members of the community who may disagree with the politics of the situation.

However, the ribbons, while perhaps not an optimal initiative, do well to get the message across in an inexpensive and unimposing way.

At the end of the day, our troops are men and women who risk their lives for a cause; there shouldn’t be anything wrong with showing respect.

The city needs to ensure it doesn’t blindly advocate a war that is not supported by the majority of its constituents, though, and needs to be careful not to send the wrong message to London’s citizens and other communities.

Share this article on:

Facebook | DiggDigg |

Copyright © 2008 The Gazette