Beer. Military. It is an odd concern and a natural connection from long before Schweik. As my pal John at Castle Argghhh noted a few years ago, Frederick the Great believed that "many battles have been fought and won by soldiers nourished on beer." And there is the third factor - sports. Up here in Canada, we just finished one of the major events of the sports year - and one that gets very little coverage in the rest of the world. No, not championship curling...that's next month. I am talking about the World Junior Hockey Championships in which, for the fifth year running, our teens thrashed the planet...again. Along with the other support from the community like tickets for our military families, I noticed a while ago that Moosehead Brewies had arranged for beer to be sent to Afghanistan so that our lads and lassies doing the hard lifting might get a cold one:
Moosehead spokesman Joel Levesque said the beer would be shipped to Afghanistan from Canadian Forces Base Trenton in Ontario in three rounds, with the first leaving in the next week. Another shipment will leave at the end of October, and a third will be sent in November. The beer will be tapped on special occasions only — and soldiers will only be allowed to enjoy a cold one when they're off duty.
With any luck, a few of the cases of the Moosehead made it past Christmas to be held in reserve to celebrate Canuck domination of global teenage hockey. While we hardly match the German approach, sadly, the right to a brew is not the rule in all situations as we read reported today in the US military newspaper Stars and Stripes that "units that fall under Multi-National Division–Baghdad will likely be the only troops enjoying a beer in Iraq during this year’s Super Bowl." Well, I suppose there are reasons and layers of reasons for these sorts of things. I remember back in the 80s me and my pals checking out a NATO fleet that had popped into Halifax for a bit of R+R and how the US sailors on the dry nuclear destroyer were joking how the whole exercise had to be stopped to fish out the Canadians who were allowed to drink on board while, on the next ship, the Canucks were sitting around having a brew telling us how, during the days of NATO practices off shore, they had sunk the Yanks even though they were sailing a piece of 1950s classic Canadian naval technology.
It takes all kinds and all points of view I guess and, when you think about it, the Super Bowl is on around breakfast time in Iraq. But, when you get together to celebrate these sorts of things, don't forget to hoist yours in a toast or, if your town is like mine, even buy one for someone wearing fatigues at the other end of the bar.