Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Pitarresi: Cherry offbase on D-Day comments

I love Don Cherry … to a point.


Cherry, nearly three decades into his second career as the centerpiece of Hockey Night in Canada, is the most recognizable person by far from our neighbor to the north, and, depending who you talk to from up there, either a national hero or a national disgrace.


Cherry says anything he wants to after the first period of the hockey games televised on CBC, and he does it in a colorful manner, to say the least. He’s refreshing in many ways, and a lot of fun, but he also crosses the line way too often and way too easily, and he’s capable of saying incredibly ignorant things – about European hockey players, French-Canadians and lots of other stuff.


He did it again the other night, during the fifth game of the Stanley Cup Finals, which occurred on the 65th anniversary of D-Day.


Cherry started out fine. It was very nice that he went out of his way to honor the soldiers who participated in the invasion, and I certainly didn’t mind his pride in the work of the Canadian 3rd Division on Juno Beach. However, when he compared the Americans and British unfavorably to the Canadians, and when he deeply insulted the French Resistance, which played a key role in the operation, he charged across the bounds of good taste.


“Canadians are the best soldiers,” Cherry said. “You know why? Because they were volunteers.”


Like a good portion of the Americans, British and French weren’t? And whether they were or they weren’t, they were out there fighting and dying. So were soldiers from Australia, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Greece, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Norway and Poland. Apparently, Don was unaware of those guys.


I liked the idea of Cherry calling attention to D-Day. I just wish he had done it without somehow belittling non-Canadians, especially since thousands of them found their finally resting places beneath white crosses in France and Belgium. Be patriot, but have a better understanding of what went on, and have a bit more compassion for all those people who helped make D-Day successful and helped win the largest, most decisive conflict in the history of the world.


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