Monday, November 07, 2011

Commander Cherry turns down his commission

The timing of the announcement seemed most appropriate, heading into Remembrance Week in Canada, the Royal Military College in Kingston had announced that hometown boy Don Cherry was to be acknowledged with an honorary doctorate for his long time support of Canada's military.

Cherry, who frequently features vignettes of the troops that have passed while in the line of duty for Canada, is perhaps the military's biggest booster in Canada, clearly wearing his heart on his sleeve when it comes to all branches of the military, as well as for police, fire fighters and EMT personnel.

And while many might rage at the man over some of his thoughts on the state of the game of hockey today, we don't think many would take up a quarrel with him over his support for the troops.

But, there was one dissenting voice loud enough it seems to put the honours in doubt, Catherine Lord a french language professor at RMC voiced her concerns that Cherry's past pronouncements from his weekly pulpit highlighted a less than respectful opinion on segments of Canadian society, thus it seems in her mind making him an unfit candidate for the military honour.

The objections seemed more of a case of petty grandstanding (letters to the editor, media releases? Really?) than any particular true case of a quest for some kind of social justice.

And while it's said she has company on the protest train, we have a feeling that within the Forces and at RMC hers would be a decidedly minority opinion in dissent, not one that really should have had much sway in the determination of who is fit or unfit to be bestowed with honorary acknowledgment.

And to that point it didn't appear that her interjection would have much of an impact, RMC had brushed aside that bit of bombast, the honorary doctorate was still set to be bestowed on the man from coach's corner, until he, himself, pulled the plug on the project.

There's no indication from Cherry as to why he chose not to accept the RMC honours, though we imagine he didn't want to be the distraction to the week of Remembrance, with Remembrance Day observations to come on November 11th, we imagine he feared that the controversy would detract from the solemn nature of those observations.

And he's probably correct if that was his thought and by his actions he has once again put the memory of the Canadian Armed Forces first, as he always has it seems.

We've had our moments trying to dissect the Cherry logic on some hockey matters, we think he's wrong on a few of them and has been quick to make comments that perhaps could have used a second or third go over, but when it comes to supporting the Armed Forces we can't think of a better champion for those that wear a uniform.

The language instructor in our mind was wrong on this one and we imagine if she takes the time to chat with the majority of the members of the forces that have been battle tested in any of our nation's overseas commitments she'll find she's a bit out of touch with those that she instructs.

Perhaps the Administration at RMC can make contact with Mr. Cherry once again, after we pay our respects for those that served and continue to serve this Remembrance Day.

With the week of solemn reflection behind us perhaps Mr. Cherry would be more receptive to the honorary degree and acknowledgement of his work on behalf of the military.

We have a feeling that there would be little blow back on RMC if they choose to go full steam ahead with their plan, as for all his faults Cherry is if nothing else, a dedicated supporter of the troops.

Regardless as any soldier, sailor or airmen will tell you, honours are nice, but the respect of your compatriots is probably reward enough. And we suspect that across the Canadian military and on into the fire, police and ambulance services, the majority of those that serve have a fair amount of respect for Cherry's frequent efforts on their behalf.

We imagine there's not an Army mess hall, Navy mess deck or Air Force base in the country where Mr. Cherry couldn't drop in for a pop of his favourite beverage, an attentive audience ready to share some time at the bar with him.

Our guess is he'd never have to pick up a tab anywhere, but he probably would anyways.

Toronto Star-- Go ahead Don, reconsider that military degree
Kingston Whig Standard-- Cherry saga disappoints official
Kingston Whig Standard-- Cherry passes on honorary degree from RMC
Kingston Whig Standard-- RMC prof pans Cherry honour
Kingston Whig Standard-- Royal Military College faculty protest honorary degree for Cherry
National Post-- Don Cherry declines honorary degree from military college
Globe and Mail-- Don Cherry turns down RMC honorary degree
Toronto Sun-- Cherry repeats pledge to decline RMC honour
Sun News-- Criticism keeps Don Cherry from accepting honorary degree
Ottawa Citizen-- Royal Military College of Canada says Don Cherry has declined Honorary Degree
Vancouver Sun-- Don Cherry honorary degree sparks debate at Canada's Royal Military College
Business Week-- Hockey Commentator Cherry Declines Military College Degree
Toronto Star-- Whatever you think of him, Cherry's slow fall sad to watch
CTV-- Don Cherry declines military college honorary degree
CBC-- Don Cherry turns down honorary degree
CBC-- Don Cherry's honorary degree sparks
CBC-- Should Don Cherry have turned down the RMC's honorary degree?

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