'This noble and elegant site
is both a tribute to a family's
history, and to a national
heritage.' -Daniel J. Cassidy
Swifter far than summer's flight --
Swifter far than youth's delight --
Swifter far than happy night,
Art thou come and gone --
As the earth when leaves are dead,
As the night when sleep is sped,
As the heart when joy is fled,
I am left lone, alone.
Percy Bysshe Shelley
'The Last Walk' by Greg Benton, 2010
Let us then move
in discharge of
our mission and
and nothing else.
Sir Winston Churchill
Stanmer Churchyard, Sussex
In the midst of life we are in death:
of whom may we seek for succour,
but of thee, O Lord, who for our sins
art justly displeased?
Yet, O Lord God most holy,
O Lord most mighty, O holy and
most merciful Saviour, deliver us not
into the bitter pains of eternal death.
Burial Office, The Book of Common Prayer
Dixi, custodiam. Psalm xxxix.
LORD, let me know mine end,
and the number of my days; *
that I may be certified
how long I have to live.
Behold, thou hast made my
days as it were a span long,
and mine age is even as
nothing in respect of thee; *
and verily every man living
is altogether vanity.
For man walketh in a vain
shadow, and disquieteth
himself in vain; * he heapeth
up riches, and cannot tell
who shall gather them.
And now, Lord, what is my
hope? * truly my hope is even
Deliver me from all mine
offences; * and make me not
a rebuke unto the foolish.
When thou with rebukes dost
chasten man for sin, thou
makest his beauty to consume
away, like as it were a moth
fretting a garment: *
every man therefore is but
Hear my prayer, O Lord,
and with thine ears consider
my calling; * hold not thy
peace at my tears;
For I am a stranger with thee,
and a sojourner, * as all my
O spare me a little, that I
may recover my strength, *
before I go hence, and be no
JESUS said, Let not your heart be troubled:
ye believe in God, believe also in me.
In my Father's house are many mansions:
if it were not so, I would have told you.
I go to prepare a place for you.
And if I go and prepare a place for you,
I will come again,and receive you unto myself;
that where I am, there ye may be also.
St. John xiv. 1.
Come, ye blessed children of
receive the kingdom prepared
for you from
the beginning of the
Honour all men.
Honour the King.
He who believes in me,
but he were dead, yet shall he live.
Jesus of Nazareth
Advance our standards, set upon our foes Our ancient world of courage fair
St. George Inspire us with the spleen of fiery dragons.
Richard III, Act V, Scene 3
The Old & New Canadian Identity
Much is being made this year of the fiftieth anniversary of the 'New Canadian Flag', i.e., the
red and white Maple Leaf flag. Whilst I perfectly understand why today the flag is celebrated
as the preeminent symbol for Canadians today, it has a different meaning for me personally.
The debate in 1964 over a national flag was a bitter one. At the time, Canada was
independently represented by the Canadian Red Ensign. Unlike most other
nations, those of the British tradition did not have 'national flags' but 'Ensigns'
that identified them within the British Commonwealth. The ensigns are based upon
the Royal Union Flag, i.e., the Union Jack, which itself was then not strictly a 'national flag
of Britain as it is now regarded, but the flag of the Queen or King: a Royal flag.
All the ensigns of our armed forces showed the Union Jack to which it is attached.
By far, the popular will of the people was to retain the Red Ensign as Canada's flag.
This was not unexpected. In the Second World War, more than a tenth of the
Canadian population, one million, served in the armed forces. Mindful of the fallen
left behind, the memory of war and of service to King and Country was deeply felt
among veterans and their families; many of whom had veterans from the Great War;
the First World War. It was evident throughout the public square; even in Quebec
at the time when there was still a significant English population.
Nevertheless, there had been in some places, notably in the Liberal party, in those decades
preceding, a push to establish an official Canadian Flag' because the current 'Ensign' was tied
to the British flag, the Union Jack. For over a million veterans and families with a deep
attachment to the 'flag' under which they fought, the answer was to simply declare
the Red Ensign as Canada's flag. For families, like mine, that had strong ties to
family in Britain, there was no doubt about our affection for the old flag.
When Prime Minister John Diefenbaker's Conservative government foolishly lost
a federal election in the fall of 1963 to Lester Pearson's Liberal party, a minority
Liberal government was formed. They wasted no time on proposing a process
to choose a new Canadian flag. They even opened it up by inviting people to
submit their ideas. A 'Canadian' flag would be 'created' and approved by
Committee and then submitted to Parliament for a vote. The Great Flag Debate
ensued throughout the year. Diefenbaker, now the leader of HM Loyal Opposition,
stird firmly for the Red Ensign. Why he didn't take advantage of his years in government
to establish the Red Ensign as Canada's flag still causes discomfort. The debate
and 'contest' showed some incredibly bizarre ideas from frenzied minds. In the end,
the winner was a flag based upon that of the Royal Military College in Kingston.
It showed two red bars and in the middle, instead of the arms of the College,
a stylised 'Maple Leaf'. Many said that it reminded them of a 'beer label' but
the political pressure to send the Ensign to the dust bin was intense.
My father commented that real flags aren't created this way, as in a Banana Republic,
but according to the country's history, tradition and the rules of heraldry. The Ensign,
after all, showed three Maple Leaves and Canadian coat of arms. Alas. This new flag
was only the beginning of the Liberal make over of the country that would see many
of Canada's symbols and traditions, including our armed forces and military traditions,
removed or re-invented and replaced over the next decade.
As it happened, I was in the Canadian Army Reserve at the time when the Maple
Leaf Flag was declared official on the fifteenth of February 1965. Later that
month, in uniform, I was given the responsibility in Richmond Hill, of lowering the Red Ensign
for the last time and raising the new flag. I recall the sadness that I felt; that everyone
I knew felt. The consequent anger among Canadians eventually subsided over the
years; especially as more and more of Canada's past traditions and identity was
removed and forgotten and largely unknown to new generations. When Pearson announced
the new flag he tellingly proclaimed it to be 'a new flag for a NEW Canada'.
That Neo-Nationalist 'new Canada', hitherto unknown, came to be a state-invented country
that sought its' identity not so much from its' history but in the political philosophy promoted
by the party of Pearson and Pierre Trudeau and it is that which has largely remained to this day.
There has been some restoration of Canadian Tradition by the current Conservative government.
Canada remains a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy so the whole of our historical
inheritance hasn't been completely wiped out. Still, as just one example of how deep
the feelings were among many, one of my brothers who served as an officer and pilot in the
Royal Canadian Navy was so disgusted at what was being done to the country that
he eventually left the service, married an American woman and became an American citizen.
He loathed the new flag and regarded it as a symbol of the erasure of British Canadian culture
When I first served in the army, it was under the Union Jack and Red Ensign.
When I returned to the army later it was under the Maple Leaf flag.
The Maple Leaf flag has since flown in battle and so is hallowed by the service
and sacrifice of Canadian men and women. So, in spite of its' unfortunate origin
as a symbol of an insidious scheme to re-make the country, it is now due the highest
What prevents me from embracing the 'New Canada' is that it was created while at the same
time denying and even dishonouring, the 'Old Canada'; a country of enormous achievement
and magnificence built and shaped by the British inheritance; the joie de vivre of French Canada
Canada is no longer a 'British' Dominion and her citizens, since 1977, no longer British Subjects
but 'Commonwealth Citizens'. I thus am an unashamed and 'unreconstructed' Canadian; loyal yes,
but with a deference to the Canadian inheritance into which I was born. As Sir John A. Macdonald
exclaimed at a time when American expansion and simmering republicanism was about in the land:
'A British Subject I was born; a British Subject I shall die.'
An English Dominican priest once said to me: 'Benton, you belong in the British Museum.'
Perhaps, when I'm dead. There are worse places I can imagine being planted.
In spite of it all, Canada remains a wonderful country with an abundance of riches and
so much else of which to be proud.
My familial ties to England remain strong; even as I watch, with sadness, the unnecessary
and sad decline of my 'other home'. It's hard to believe what's happening to the UK.
The 'Greatness' of Britain has diminished dramatically.As Mark Steyn recently remarked to me
in signing his new book 'The Undocumented Mark Steyn'
'I hope that St. George slays the Dragon but time is running out'.
By way of explanation, I should say that these deeply held loyalties and identity were instilled in me
by my family even from my earliest years as a boy.
I recall a particularly significant time in this making of a 'citizen' of me by my father,
a former Grenadier Guard. When he was appointed to a high executive position in a large American
Corporation based in Boston, our family moved to the United States where, of course,
I attended school. It was whilst here that a somewhat telling event occurred in 1959;
one that helped to define my own identity as a Canadian.
Assigned a typical class assignment to do a 'book report', I chose to tell our
class the story of a book titled 'Dale of the Mounted in the Arctic'. I recall feeling a special sense
of pride as a Canadian upon presenting to my American classmates a story about our famous
'Mounties'! It all went well until my teacher, observing that the cover of the book showed a Mountie
raising the Union Jack all surrounded by snow and sled dogs, questioned its' authenticity.
'That's the British flag', he said, 'not the Canadian flag'. I responded somewhat defensively
by telling him that it was 'our flag too'. He didn't believe me. I was pretty sure of this because it
was the flag we flew in Wolf Cubs and Scouts and saw everywhere back home in Canada. It
was the flag that our soldiers marched with. I remember that we had to memorize all the names
of the crosses that make up the Union Flag and their meaning. 'We are British too', I insisted.
He immediately ran off to the school library and brought back an encyclopedia that showed
Canada's flag as the 'Red Ensign', basically the 'Red Duster' but with the Canadian coat of arms
in the fly. 'Now', he snorted rather smugly, 'this shows that the Union Jack is not your flag'.
'Oh no, they are both our flags' I replied, leaned away from his rather commanding presence.
That did it for him as he stormed off mumbling that a country can only have 'one' flag.
I went home a little confused so I asked my father if the Union Jack is indeed our flag.
He then proceeded to explain why it is and why we also fly an Ensign. 'We are part of
the British Family' he said 'and the Red Ensign shows what part of the family we belong to'.
Made sense to me!
'What are we then Dad?', I asked. 'We're English son. Our family is English. We came
from England. We're English Canadians', he said. Then, as if inspired by the teacher's challenge,
my father asked my older brother and I if, at school, we sing the American anthem and say their
pledge of allegiance along with the American kids; a custom that I gather is sadly missing of late
from many American schools today because of some sad leftist educators in some schools.
What I experienced was a great reverence for the American flag and that's as it should be I think
for Americans. I know that it's different for us. So we told him 'yeah'. He immediately instructed
us to stop because we're Canadians not Americans. 'Okay.'
The next morning at school did not go well when the teacher noticed that I was, for the first time,
not singing the anthem and saying the pledge of allegiance. He marched down to my desk and
demanded to know why I wasn't singing. I told him of my father's instruction. 'This is America!,
he shouted. 'In America, everyone follows what Americans do!' His face was beet red and I felt
as if, like the Loyalists before me, I was about to be tarred and feathered. There was dead silence in the
classroom. I'm sure that I was shaking.
That evening, when my father returned home from work, I told him what had happened and
he didn't like it one bit. He said that he would be accompanying me to class the next morning
and have a visit with my teacher. It seemed like it was war. I meekly nodded to him but felt
a little frightened at the thought of the confrontation. Little did I know what was in store for me.
Next day, my teacher and father, before school began, met in the hallway outside the classroom.
My Dad was bigger than my teacher and this gave me some comfort. When the teacher
came back into the classroom, without my father, he came to me and, in a much softer voice,
told me how much he liked my father and agreed that I shouldn't be singing the American anthem
or say the pledge. Phew. Then, my stomach immediately turned to knots when he invited me to
sing Canada's anthem and say our own pledge of allegiance every morning after the rest of the class
did their duty. Good grief. I couldn't remember ever saying a Canadian pledge of allegiance.
At school back in Canada we mostly sang 'God Save The Queen' and sometimes 'O Canada'.
I didn't want to do this. I told the teacher that I would have to 'ask my Dad'. 'Oh', he chuckled,
your Dad and I have already talked about it'.
Soon afterwards, my father returned home after visiting the Canadian Consulate in Boston.
He gave me a hand-held Canadian Red Ensign, a picture of the Queen, as well as a colourful
card that had the Canadian Citizenship Oath, i.e., the oath of allegiance to the Queen said
by people who are becoming Citizens. I was given my marching orders.
Early the next morning at school, the teacher helped to fix my Red Ensign up in the corner
of the room beside the American flag. Opening exercises proceeded as usual and then
the teacher advised the class that 'Greg', who is Canadian, will now sing his anthem
and say his Canadian pledge. Every eye in the room was fixed on my nervous self
as I gave my first solo performance of The Queen, O Canada and the Oath,
"I swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty the Queen,
her heirs and successors, according to law. So help me God."
When I was done, after a moments' ominous silence, the whole room suddenly erupted in cheers
and whistles from my classmates and even the teacher! I couldn't have expected anything like
that but when it happened I remember taking a deep breath of relief and, more than that,
a feeling and sense of enormous pride in my country that has strengthened and remained with every since.
It also turned out that my teacher invited my father to come to the class and speak about
Canada; everything from snow, ice hockey, to the Canadian armed forces and the war,
the French, Mounties and how our government was supposed to work. He showed two movies
that he borrowed from the consulate in Boston: The Musical Ride of the RCMP
and the Opening of Parliament in 1957 by HM the Queen. My classmates loved it
and it was great that they asked my father many questions about Canada explaining the history
and geography of the country and their meaning.
In such short a period of time, I had gone from being regarded as some kind of traitor to
suddenly becoming the class 'Canadian celebrity'. I observed the ritual every day
until the end of the year (fortunately it was only six weeks or so) but without all the hoopla
of course. It had become rather tired and was glad that I didn't have to 'perform' anymore.
What I learned in that year, now so long ago, shall never leave me no matter the changes.
I know that I am a 'Canadian Dinosaur' or as Professor Champion describes the type
in his book 'The Strange Demise of British Canada', 'Paleo-Canadian'. So were
millions who lived and died before me.
As an aside, I shall always also remember how good and friendly my American friends were.
Indeed, my four years in the USA were undoubtedly some of the happiest of my boyhood.
GE Benton, February, 2015
'The Royal Arms of Canada'
The Canadian Red Ensign
The 'Union Jack'
|Dale of the Mounted
in the Arctic, 1955
The Maple Leaf Flag of Canada
The National & Royal Anthems of Canada
Richard I - The Lionheart
It has become rather common in these days of our armies fighting
in far-off places, where the distinction in principle between the sides
is dismissed by 'intellectuals', i.e., the characterisation of a 'clash
of civilisations'and 'cultures', as being mere propaganda in an attempt
to disguise the 'oppressive' and 'exploitive' policies of the United States,
Britain and NATO.
There has been, since the expansion of 'intellectuals' as a class
from the 19th c., especially in the service of the fanciful evil of Marxist
socialism, a commensurate increase in the denial of the realities of life
that almost invariably must be 'proved', usually militarily, in each
generation to 'reset' the bar and further deter the threats to our 'way of life'.
'Political Correctness', a form of cultural Marxism that has permeated our
schools and universities and is animated by a variety of 'angry people' who
identify themselves as 'progressive', advances the Lie, not only that our
enemies would not exist if it wasn't because we behaved so badly towards them,
but that the religious/political culture that is advancing it's terror is not only
legitimate, but equal to our own in 'virtue'.
It is a given, of course, the 'faults' in any culture, religious or political at
any time in history. The dishonesty of the 'Left' is not so much in
acknowledging the failure of ours or any people to live up to the principles
or theoretical ideology that identifies the culture but rather in the denial
of the de facto experience of the life of the citizen.
For those of us who have had the good fortune of living in countries that
have as their fundamental heritage, freedom and the rule of law, there is simply
no argument, moral or otherwise, that can deny the superior virtue that
is embraced by the British and American heritage and that is shared with
people of many races and cultures. The spoiler, of course, is that the
expansion of that heritage coincided with the economic and territorial
expansion that was 'Empire'.(a term now so pejorative that it
is almost equated with original sin.)
Christendom, established by Constantine, flourished for centuries in many
places throughout Europe and the mediterranean. It served as both a theoretical
as well as pragmatic backdrop to the evolution of human freedom that is bookmarked
in great moments such as that of the Magna Carta in 1215 at Runneymede and the
Declaration of Independence in 1776 at Philadelphia. From the British Common Law
and the Bill of Rights of the Republic, the world has come to know and recognise
the principles that permit the greatest good for human beings and their societies.
The transition from peasant to free citizen, accelerated by the Industrial Revolution
(Blake's 'dark satanic mills' and Dickens 'Oliver Twist' notwithstanding) has
been remarkably successful in those countries that have adhered to the notion
that 'all men shall be free from the tyranny of a bad King'. So it was that, in
the two great world wars of the 20th c., the citizens of free societies, volunteered
to defend not just the castle of the 'King', but their own 'castle', i.e., 'ome'.
Not only that, but the enemies whom they defeated have themselves acquired
the culture of freedom and the rule of law.
The problem is: some people, mostly in other cultures, but even in our own,
hate freedom and the rule of law. Not only do many despise it, some are driven
to tyranny, terror and death through their primitive and perverse passions motivated
either by a warped vision of a religious edict or of an archetypal political leadership
that rules by old-fashioned fear.
The disgrace is in those who, whilst continuing to benefit from society that has
afforded them their perch, are smug and indifferent to the legacy and
fragility of preserving a way of life; one that, even in it's imperfection, at
the very least seeks to uphold the dignity and prosperity of human life.
As before, the current replay of history's 'symphonic' theme will find it's resolution
one way or another in the will or the lack of will, of the citizen to defend that which
has been bought so preciously in previous generations.
Today, the horizon shows the shadow of a greater calamity than what now
exists. The price in blood today, so valiantly spent by those to whom the
responsibility has been given, is just a hint at what the enemies of freedom
intend to exact upon us in their own time.
Enjoy your latte.
GE Benton, originally posted in 2008
CRUSADE OR BUST