I feel the need to make a few points.
I’m generally pro-respecting the military. It’s a tough job; it deserves respect. But in Canada, we generally do a pretty decent job of respecting the military (as indeed most Western cultures do). We give them excellent benefits (and I fully admit in the past that defense underfunding was interfering with this and have always been for proper benefits due to soldiers given the inherent risk of the job). Soldiers are eligible for national honours not available to any class of citizen. No other job gets a day of remembrance. And this is fine and proper, entirely appropriate.
But soldiering is a job, and it is vitally important to recognize it as such and only such. Fetishization of the military is dangerous, for it elevates the soldier in importance beyond other citizens, and that is utterly unacceptable. This is where pieces of shit like “It Is The Soldier” come from. In fairness, the poem was written for military funerals, a for-soldiers-by-soldiers thing. But it’s still a horrific sentiment. It is not the soldier that gives us our rights, in theory or in practice; it is the constitution. The entire concept of inherent rights demands this. When Thomas Jefferson wrote that “every citizen should be a soldier,” he was arguing expressly against the concept of a private military class exactly for this reason: private military classes, historically speaking, tend to dominate their way into political life with depressing routine over the history of the world.
(And the poem, as poems are wont to do, ignores the obvious counterpoint: that when rights are suppressed, more often than not it’s the soldier doing said suppressing. Don’t see many poems about Kent State or Abu Ghraib or the Canadian Airborne in Somalia, now, do you?)
And when fuckmunches like Rob Ford bring out proposals like this one, the intent isn’t to honor soldiers anyway; the intent is to use patriotism as a cudgel, to say “my political opponents aren’t as patriotic as I am and they hate our soldiers.” It’s despicable gutter politics of the worst kind. And that’s why I wrote the article.