My Final Blog of 2016, Wishing my readers a Happy and Prosperous New Year.
Leaving the Legion was not a rushed decision on my part, it came about from many years of frustration and of being ignored.
Regarding the issue of blood relatives wearing late loved ones medals on such occasions as Remembrance day Parades. When I began my campaign asking the legion to request having section 419 of the criminal code amended to allow this, I literally hit a brick wall of resistance. I have to tell you this took me quite by surprise. What could be so shockingly wrong about my proposal? But shockingly wrong it was, according to my Provincial Command and later Dominion Command. There was no room for discussion or dialogue, the door was firmly slammed shut in my face. Why was this such a radical proposal? who could it possibly affect negatively? However, when the two levels of command refuse to even discuss it, my efforts within the legion hierarchy slowly grounded to a halt. I did all I could think of, I ranted, I raved, I shouted, and I probably insulted! but all to no avail. The only answer the legion ever offered was this, “to allow blood relatives to wear these medals dilutes the value of the medal”. Now, perhaps one assumes I’m upset not to get my own way, and of course that is partly true. Yet its not the reason I persist with this issue of who can wear medals. Today’s legions are mainly made up of civilian/associate members, and over the years they have become comfortable wearing a chest full of legion service medals on their uniforms. These are not real medals and must be worn on the right breast. At any given Legion parade you will see many associates wearing a chest full of these medals. They parade in legion uniform, beret, white groves and their legion medals To the general public they appear as veterans, indeed, one can hardly fault civilians for this misconception. However, the question I raise here is this, who is diluting the value of medals, surely not a widow wearing here late husbands military medals. How about an associate wearing nine or ten legion service medals. I really don’t care if these guys want to parade like they are veterans, but why deny blood relatives???
From this issue, I have come to see how we are losing history, how we are failing to give our youth a chance to participate and remember. I posted a blog about “Pip Squeak and Wilfred” the name given to the three World War 1 medals, they were mailed out to all troops who served from 1914-18. I think most veterans of that awful conflict regarded these medals as a poor way of honouring their sacrifices . However,this is not about whether the medals were appropriate. its about history. How many people today would be aware of “Pip Squeak and Wilfred”? Not too many.. This is a piece of history already forgotten. How many WW1 medals do we see at Remembrance Day Services today? None. Indeed how many WW2 medals do we see these days, each year there are fewer and fewer, and the disappearance of Korean medals will soon follow. Allow me to ask, how is “We will remember them” working for the people at Dominion Command?
If the legion would take up this initiative they might find it could work to their advantage. Instead of their often negative, arrogant and hostile approach to grass root members. Maybe if they listened to suggestions with an open mind. If they showed interest and were prepared to discuss new ideas. It might just be possible to find some common ground. Try to understand and imagine the sort of reaction we might get from today’s youth. Think how a son/daughter/grandson/granddaughter might react if they were told they could wear their Grandfathers War medals to a Remembrance Day Parade. Can you see the glow in their young eyes, the pride in their bearing, and the honour they exude. What do you think would be the first thing they might want to do? Perhaps go to their computers and search why the medals were awarded. For the long forgotten battles where the medals were earned.They would be learning the history of the wars/conflicts there grandfathers served in.
For new generations would this not be a perfect opportunity to remember, to learn and to understanding. Attending a Remembrance Day Ceremony wearing their Great Grandfathers medals could only stir pride in those young people. At different branches and ceremonies, the youths could become part of the parade, part of the wreath laying, part of the speeches. It could create a whole new generation with a greater understanding of why we remember. It could spill over into the schools and classrooms. More families would begin to cherish and treasure their forefathers medals,. Fewer would end up on Ebay. Think of the opportunities this would created, if we amend this archaic law. Think of the benefits legions branches everywhere would gain. Remembrance Day would take on a whole new meaning and purpose. Perhaps, allowing our youth to wear these forgotten medals and awards, attendance on November 11th would grow. I have been a Remembrance Day guest speaker at schools for more than 17 years. On those occasions many children are eager to tell me about there grandfathers,uncles etc or relate stories they have to tell. There is much more I could say, the possibilities are endless and real. However, as the saying goes,”I’d be flogging a dead horse” if the people in power fail to listen. As the year ends and a new one begins, maybe —- just maybe, l have created a new way of thinking or perhaps planted a tiny seed for change. All that remains to be done now, is to wait and see. Will the legion hierarchy final open their minds to new ideas or continue down the road of failure.
I leave you with this final question. Of the two photos here, which would you find more in keeping with the purpose of Remembering??????