On Tuesday May 5, Skeleton Park neighbour Susanne spoke to Council about the proposed ‘Valour District’. Here’s what she said.
Dear Mayor and Councillors,
Thank you for this opportunity for me to speak to you tonight.
I am here because of the proposal to establish a Valour District in Kingston. And I would like to talk to you about why I am opposed to such an idea.
I grew up in West-Germany.
My generation is called the ‘Dritte Generation’; we are the grandchildren of the war-generation.
I am a product of the process that was started by the Allies, a process to de-nazify and re-educate Germany. At the time, there was a strong sense among the victors that, to find sustaining and lasting peace in Europe, German society had to be re-educated, had to develop strong democratic institutions and an engaged citizenry.
So, in school, we were taught to mistrust war, to question military conflicts, and to question the role of the military in a society.
My generation learned to mistrust efforts to glorify war.
We were taught to mourn all victims of war.
We were taught that war must not be repeated and that it was our responsibility to work for peace.
We were taught that war is not (and never will be) an act of valour.
There was to be no remembering fallen soldiers as heroes.
Growing up in Germany, we learned that it is dangerous for a society to focus on its military accomplishments and to promote ideas of military valour. Glorifying war was seen as invariably leading to more military conflicts and legitimizing sending soldiers out to fight.
If fighting in war is a brave and valiant thing, then why not do it again – and again, and again and again!?
It is therefore ironic for me to live here in Kingston and find this City Council considering naming a Valour District. It seems so contradictory to the Allied message to Germans after the Second World War.
I hope that Council will accept the staff report and not support the creation of a Valour District in Kingston at this time, or, from my point of view, ever.
Let us instead recognize the tragedy of war and commit ourselves to the pursuit of peace -without the pretense that war is glorious.