History books never completely close.
But in an era when Canadian soldiers are once again fighting and dying overseas, the question of who gets to write military history is particularly important.
Last year, the federal government stirred up a hornet’s nest of controversy by banning media coverage – the first draft of history – of the return to Canadian soil of coffins of soldiers killed in Afghanistan.
The Canadian War Museum sparked controversy of its own when its display about the Allied bombing of German cities during the Second World War described the “value and morality” of those missions as “bitterly contested”. Veterans groups complained the description made them out to be war criminals. A senate committee agreed and suggested the museum change the wording of the display.
For eighteen months, museum officials argued the wording was historically accurate, the display presented all sides of what it characterized as an “enduring controversy”, and there would be no changes to the exhibit.
Until yesterday, when the museum suddenly announced a reversal in policy – it will now reword the controversial panel to take into account the veterans’ concerns.
For a good overview of the pro and con arguments surrounding the issue, have a listen to a podcast of a show I produced on the subject back in April.
Let me know what you think.