The memorial, created by artists in Nelson, B.C., ties into a two-day celebration planned for July 2006 that pays tribute to as many as 125,000 Americans who fled to Canada between 1964 and 1977.
“This will mark the courageous legacy of Vietnam War resisters and the Canadians who helped them resettle in this country during that tumultuous era,” Isaac Romano, the director of the Our Way Home festival told a news conference in Nelson Tuesday.
While I applaud pacifists, and respect anyone who chooses to resist a military draft, are these people really deserving of a statue? Protesters who remained in the US certainly do, as do the soldiers who fought and died in Vietnam. Serving and questioning your country are both admirable acts.
Draft dodgers fled. They undertook a generally non-perilous journey and waited out the war north of the border. What part of that act is worthy enough to merit a statue? As far as I know, none of them died. Now, those who continued the struggle against the war in Canada deserve commendation, but that was surely a small percentage of all the draft dodgers.
When we erect dubious public art, we weaken the impact and meaning of all the truly legitimate memorials out there. If I lived in Nelson, I’d be encouraging my city council not to permit this statue on public property. I wonder what local veterans will think when they spot homage to the “courageous legacy” of draft dodgers?