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Remembrance Day

Don and Ron
Don and Ron

Being an American who follows the Leafs from his home in New England I get an interesting look into the subtle cultural differences between the Northeast and Canada. To be honest there's less of a difference between being in Massachusetts and Ontario than there is between Massachusetts and Arizona, but because Canada is an entirely different country there's an asymptote of sorts at the border with regards to media coverage.

In Canada, the CBC's Hockey Night In Canada is broadcast nationally and is one of the most watched shows on Canadian TV. During the first intermission the CBC broadcasts "Coach's Corner": a segment where a delusional claptrap (Don Cherry, pictured above with wacky suit) insults foreigners and his generally knowledgeable but meek co-host (Ron McLean, pictured above in a normal suit looking embarassed).

Don Cherry's a very polarizing figure and like the "US vs. Canada" argument above it's out of scope for what we're getting to: Don Cherry does at least one thing that we all understand and respect.

At the end of every Coach's Corner since the Canadian occupation of Afghanistan began, Don Cherry shows pictures of fallen Canadians in their dress uniforms. Most weeks he reads their names aloud live on the air along with what hockey team they rooted for and where they were from. This video is from November 7th, 2009, and is a sort of recap of all the soldiers who gave their lives for their country:

The video isn't about Don's personal agenda regarding the war. There's no politicking about whether or not what the Canadian Forces are doing is right or wrong. Don Cherry through the CBC is simply showing Canadian viewers young men and women that have died for their country recently and it's enormously powerful.

Hockey Night in Canada is one of the most watched shows in Canada, its American equivalent would be something like Monday Night Football or American Idol; it's something that's watched in most houses religiously. So on Remembrance Day or Veteran's Day my point is this:

Monday Night Football and American Idol or their equivalents should be doing what Don Cherry does: showing Americans who have fallen in battle to remind people that the wars we tacitly accept as some sort of nebulous problem somewhere else are real events with real consequences. They're not something to be acknowledged solely on Remembrance Day like a senile relative whose family only visits near Christmas. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan shouldn't be something people accept as just happening: people are dying and the great majority of Americans don't have that fact in their faces on a weekly basis.

Don Cherry, whom I personally find generally entertaining even though he may be someone's unvisited xenophobic crazy relative in another universe, provides a powerful message through his broadcasts and it's something I wish CBS, NBC, or ABC was gutsy enough to do.