Over the past couple of months since moving, I have been struck by the major difference in the way the military over here in Canada interact with their civilian neighbours. 1. The town in which I live, Petawawa, has a population of approx 15500 and is home to a major Candian Forces Base. Rather than shutting themselves up behind armed sentries and barbed wire, many areas of the base are open to the public; for example the Canex store (aka NAAFI), the pool and gym (annual family membership for non military approx 200 quid), public groups like Cubs & Scouts are encouraged to use the facilities, free regimental museums, associate mess membership offered in the community, etc. 2. Whenever the military suffer a loss (sadly 5 from Petawawa this month) all federal and provincial governmental buildings fly their flags at half mast. This serves to highligh to the public the price being paid by the military. These two are in stark contrast to the way the UK military operates. Given the ever-shrinking military footprint in the UK, do people think that greater involvement in the community lead to a greater recognition of what the UK Forces do? Would it be realistic to open the gym and swimming facilities at UK bases to the wider community? Should all national flags be half-masted as a mark of respect when UK servicemen are killed and again when their bodies are re-patriated? I feel that my local community over here has a much greater awareness of and empathy for the military (and its not just because I live in a garrison town!) than I've ever experienced in the UK. In the UK, wearing rig was an invitation to be insulted for being a copper or car-par attendant whereas over here there's still pride in the military. Have any other ex-pats noticed anything similar in their part of the world?