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Thursday, July 1, 2010

At the Un-National Monument along the Canadian Border

(Garden and fountain at the International Peace Garden)

July marks its first days with the sights and sounds of fireworks and parades celebrating America. This will be our theme this month.

We begin with a verse that takes note of the friendship between America and its neighbor to the north. It is Canada’s national day today, celebrating the founding of the nation.

On July 1, 1867, the British colonies of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia joined the Province of Canada (Quebec and Ontario) to create "one Dominion under the name of Canada." The term "dominion" came from Psalm 72:8, "He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth." This Biblical verse also inspired Canada's Latin motto,
A Mari usque ad Mare, or "From Sea to Sea."

It was not until 1871, with the entry of British Columbia on the Pacific Ocean, that the motto reflected reality. Some fussy people would put that date even later, to 1949, when Newfoundland, on the Atlantic Ocean, became the tenth province of Canada.

Canada now comprises ten provinces and three territories in the north, including the Yukon. The name of this national holiday was changed from Dominion Day to Canada Day in 1982.

In 1932, the United States and Canada established a garden on a piece of land between the province of Manitoba and the state of North Dakota. This garden straddles the 49th parallel, which marks the longest undefended border in the world.


This is the field where the battle did not happen,
where the unknown soldier did not die.
This is the field where grass joined hands,
where no monument stands,
and the only heroic thing is the sky.

Birds fly here without any sound,
unfolding their wings across the open.
No people killed — or were killed — on this ground
hallowed by neglect and an air so tame
that people celebrate it by forgetting its name.

~ William Stafford (1914-1993), American poet

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