Model Citizens: Facts and Arguments Essay

On the topic of exploring different models of different mediums of writing, here is a Facts and Arguments that I found particularly interesting.

Check out the full essay @ http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/facts-and-arguments/my-dads-a-postwar-hero/article4243317/

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Just before the Canadian military’s final thrust to liberate the Netherlands during the Second World War, three young Canadian soldiers were billeted at my father’s house at Deinze, in neighbouring Belgium.

Exhausted, they were recuperating before what everyone knew was going to be a decisive and fearsome battle.

The people of Deinze were astonished that these young men from Canada – a country so far away – could have come to save them after so many years of war, when their resources were at their lowest ebb.

Out came the celebratory schnapps, the speculaas and the waffelen, the best of the herring, potatoes and pickled eggs. Nothing was too good for the Canadians, and the villagers embraced them and gave the best they had.

In appreciation, one of the soldiers, Tommy Watkin, promised that if he survived the war, and if my father’s family ever wanted to immigrate to Canada, they could stay with him.

And so it was that, several years later, Mrs. Watkin was surprised to find four Belgians living in the basement of her home in Brandon, Man. – my 14-year-old father, his four-year-old brother and their parents, Albert and Bertha de Waal.

Moving to Canada was a shell shock different from any in the war, but shattering nevertheless for a young European boy.

The first shock was having to leave their dog behind. A Belgian shepherd named Dianne, she was the companion of my father’s heart.

None of the relatives would take the dog in, so she ended up being sold to the village rag man, who put her to work pulling a cart filled with old clothes through the market square. She didn’t live long.

The pain of this loss, and of Dianne’s unfortunate fate, was a wound that Dad could not speak of without emotion, even 60 years later.

And there was another problem – more superficial, but of great importance to a self-conscious teenager – that of clothes and fitting in.

Good leather shoes, below-the-knee woollen knickerbockers, high socks and a little wool suit-coat were not the things most Canadian boys wore to their first day of high school.

Jeers of “D.P! D.P.!” (displaced person) rang in my father’s ears, as it did for many European immigrants arriving in Canada with nothing but bundles, trunks, strange accents and odd clothing.

More challenges lay ahead: the confounded difficulties of the English language. Dad would describe for us the utter misery of trying to understand why words like “enough” and “stuff” sounded the same, yet were spelled completely differently.

And don’t even get him started on his attempts to make sense ofHamlet, the Shakespearean play everyone in Grade 9 had to study.

For a Flemish boy who spoke only the Dutch dialect and French, and not a smattering of 16th-century English, or even 20th-century English, this was a major obstacle to overcome.

Failure was not an option: The family expected him to make the best of things.

(…) Jeannine O’Reilly lives in Newmarket, Ont.

*make sure to read it all at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/facts-and-arguments/my-dads-a-postwar-hero/article4243317/*


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