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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Now everyone's a hero

Spending $3.85 million on medals for just showing up? For CMT? 160,000 are eligible? The Queen has to give approval? FFS. I hope she tells him to naff off.

As NZ's military operations since Vietnam have increasingly become restricted to small-scale peace-keeping stints and the opportunities for combat have shrivelled to little more than exchanging terse words across a local official's desk and slightly awkward receptions in the village square the government has sought to keep up the awarding of medals for other things - lately retrospective honouring has been the in thing. This, I think, is due to three reasons:
Firstly a notion that because women were not able to be involved in combat action and excluded from many roles in the military - and therefore were ineligible for many classes of medal - it was a form of sexist discrimination that ought to be remedied by way of finding reasons to give them medals to elevate the status of their contribution.
Secondly, a detached historian's viewpoint that the logistical and homefront operations were more important to the war effort than was previously acknowledged by the chaps with bushy moustaches on the General Staff.
Thirdly, the dwindling numbers of veterans from the WWII-Korea era compared with non-combat veterans and other service personnel who could lobby for medals with less resistance from the combat group.

Nowadays anyone who was alive at the time of World War II is treated as some sort of patriotic hero. Having been in any sort of uniform at the time is enough - a school milk monitor during the autumn of 1944 was rendering a vital wartime service and there will no doubt be a medal dished out for it if the logic of the government's course is followed through. Elevating these mundane tasks actually debases the real service medals in my opinion; but if an Army officer working as a clerk in a back office in Petone who only ever faced the harm of a paper cut during an overseas conflict gets to wear a medal for having been part of it then yes, why not extend that across other branches of the military industrial complex and other job descriptions?

However... the thought that the likes of my (pacifist, hippy) father can now pin a bloody medal to their chests - all for their month or two (of what he described as fun) at a camp in Papakura as a teenager - and can now parade down the road on ANZAC Day and into the RSA as if they were Charley bloody Upham is just too much! 160,000 instant Kiwi heros, eh. 160,000 decorated servicemen and women, eh. Instantly. For $3.85m it would be cheaper to just contract Sanitarium to make them out of plastic and distribute them them all in boxes of Weet-bix for all the credibility this operation has.

However... politically, as a Christmas present from John Key via the Queen, it will probably prove a great self-esteem boost for a lot of middle-aged men who feel undervalued and maligned in a changing world and bring on a sense of nationalism, conservatism and nostalgia that can only help the Tories. For those surviving spouses and children applying it will also have much the same effect. Those clever bastards.


At 13/10/10 4:46 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jealous Bomber? How about you get off your arse and do something for the country instead of complaining.

At 13/10/10 4:55 pm, Blogger Bomber said...

Oh for the love of God 'anon' - who wrote this post you clown? What have I got to do with this post? It's Tim's post, you went off half cocked without checking who wrote it didn't you?

I see why you post anonymously.

As you were.

At 13/10/10 5:12 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fair enough; my mistake. However, I'd like to pose the same question: Bomber, why don't you get off your arse and do something for the country instead of complaining?

At 13/10/10 5:27 pm, Blogger Bomber said...

NO WAY! After cocking up your insult you come back and try to use it again? It's clear from your comment you have no idea what I do outside of the two TV shows, appearances on The Nation, Q+A, Radio NZ and my blogging.

I think that you need to get off your arse and stop posting anonymous insults that back fire.

Thanks for the laugh, hush now I'm busy.

At 13/10/10 7:10 pm, Anonymous shirleyboy said...

Kia ora Tim, I'm ex NZDF and I think it's a great idea. Your rant didn't really deal with the essential point of this- people like me have served their country in good times & bad. I'll be applying for mine- it will come out on ANZAC day or funerals like the other one. What's the problem?

At 13/10/10 8:18 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am also ex NZDF and served in all sorts of places, sometimes during very volatile and hair raising events. I think this is a nice touch to recognise what some people have done. Does anyone know what it will look like?

At 13/10/10 11:48 pm, Blogger Tim Selwyn said...

Shirleyboy: I dealt with it: the problem is how they served and why they should be decorated with a medal. Holding down a job for three years isn't much of a threshold for a medal. A few months on camp as a teenager even less so. "In good times and bad" doesn't mean that much if you're cleaning spark plugs in a workshop during peacetime for that period or at university getting the military to pay for your courses. Why should those staff members get awarded a medal? When people see medals on someone they have an expectation it is for having put their arse on the line at some point - not for merely having sat on it for a long enough period to tick the box.

At 14/10/10 8:21 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anybody who joins any of the NZ armed forces is only carrying out the orders of US corporations anyway...

At 14/10/10 10:43 am, Anonymous Hungry Bear said...

Which US Corporation ordered our armed forces into their peace keeping role in East Timor anon?


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