"Thus open the gates of paradise."

In this issue

Vladimir Ilich Ulyanov

06 Apr 2002

Lenin emerging from a television setRussia announced this week that they have resolved to bury the body of Valdimir Ilich Ulyanov, better known to the world as Lenin. Since his death, he has been on public display in Red Square. What does it say about a nation when they deny one of their founders a proper burial and instead keep him under glass like Snow White for 75 years? That they have first rate iconographers and spin doctors, that's what. Don't just read about those who gave their lives so the socialist state may live, go to Moscow and see them! Look upon the face that spread the Marxist message and saved the masses! Hallelujah!

And this from an officially atheist country? That's about as credible as a couple of "social clubs" I've seen down in the seamier part of town. I think we're looking at nothing less than a self-made religion here, one of hero worship in support of the government, or at least the state. This, of course, is a strategy used on this side of the Atlantic as well. I'm sure you can name a couple of dead American "heroes" whose lives glorify Old Glory: Abe Lincoln, John Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr... But they're all buried, I hear you scoffing. Perhaps in body, but certainly not in spirit. I'll wager that if you open a decent Saturday or Sunday edition of your favourite newspaper (Canadian or American), you'll find at least one reference to JFK. It's coming up on 36 years later, and Jack is still popping up at every turn of the crank. What is it going to take for everyone to just move on?

And so whither Canada? Where are our dead heroes? You could point at old prime ministers, I suppose, though there's not a lot of mileage there. No, I think you have to look at the material world to find our icons: The Avro Arrow. The TransCanada Railway. The '72 hockey game with the Soviets. All departed mementos from our history when for some reason, we though well of ourselves. So what would happen if you built a Mausoleum and put an Arrow under glass in it? Would people queue up for hours to catch a glimpse of Canadian technical superiority? Well, they did, and they don't. You can visit the Aviation Museum outside of Ottawa and see the single largest piece of Avro Arrow still around, and yet who has ever been there (besides me)? Perhaps we're just better at burying our dead.

Related Sites

Virtual Reality Tour of Lenin's Tomb
The Lenin Museum (Their shop offers "Che Guevara coffee")
Statue Park at Museum Budapest
Canadian Aviation Museum
The Resurrection of a Legend (An article about the Avro Arrow)