During my lengthy illness,my mobility was limited to getting out of bed and sitting in my chair to getting back into bed. The heavy drug I was on effected my blood sugars sending then sky high which in turn limited my vision. Reading and watching TV was not much of an option consequently I spent most of my time with my eyes closed and thinking. You know my passion is to have the section 419 of the criminal code amended to allow blood relatives to wear their late loved ones medals on suitable occasions such as Remembrance Day. I have to tell you I could find no reasonable purpose to this part of that law. Can you imagine any reasonable law enforcement arresting an eighty year old widow for this offense? Can you imagine that same lady before the magistrate and being fined the $5000 maximum fine or if she was unable to pay being sent to jail for six months? Can anyone explain how this widow is doing harm, is a danger to the citizens of Canada, is flaunting the laws of the land? What possible threat is she, and whom does she threaten by wearing her late husbands medals. I have given this a lot of thought and for the life of me fail to see a single reason why the law should not be amended. Understand, this law only applies here in Canada, in every other Commonwealth country it is not only permitted it is traditional
.It may interest you to know that section 419 was enacted in 1920 under Bill No. 137, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, shortly after the close of World War I, in which many Canadians lost their lives. Veterans did not wish for those who did not serve in the military to display on themselves war decorations which they had not earned. The legislation was introduced in the House of Commons on May 28, 1920, by the then Minister of Justice, the Honourable C. J. Doherty. The Bill was supported by the then Prime Minister Sir Robert Laird Borden’s Unionist Party, which was composed primarily of former Conservative Party members and a smaller number of Liberal members of Parliament.
The reason for this law passed in 1920 was probably done with good intentions. I believe some 6 million First World War medals (3) were mailed out to veterans and or relatives who had lost family members in the war. This would have meant there were lots of the medals about and were probably not difficult to come by. Its possible the actual veterans feared men who avoided going to war might be attempting to find favour when looking for work by wear these medals. However, this same situation would surely have existed in Britain and other parts of the Empire, yet those veterans did not see a need ban mothers widows and family members from wearing loved ones medals on the right breast. Circa 1920 cenotaphs and war memorials were being erected in cities, towns and villages all across the British Empire. The names of the fallen were often inscribed on the base of these cenotaphs and their relatives attended the unveiling wearing the medals as a way of showing they had lost someone to the war. In most Commonwealth nations this practice became a tradition. Its important to understand we shall always have people who will wear medals for which they are not entitled and they are indeed breaking the law, but no law will completely stop that.. However, lets return to the eighty year old widow for a moment, she lost her husband and for that reason alone I believe she has the right to wear his medals on her right breast. the attached photo shows a young girl wearing her Great Great Grandfathers WW1 medals while standing beside her Grandfather, a WW2 veteran)
This is 2017, this long ago passed law was enacted in a very different world to the one we live in today, yet remains in effect, surely there have been many changes in the intervening ninety seven years? One must ask oneself why we need such a law?, is it necessary? how does it affect us today. I believe the answer is this, if a blood relative wears a late loved ones medals on his/her right breast, it does not in any way shape or form show disrespect, it does the exact opposite, it shows pride and honours the memory of one of our fallen. How could that not be right??
When I attempt I have the Royal Canadian Legion move to amend this law, the members at Dominion and Province Commands stubbornly dig their heels and adamantly refuse. Their excuse is this, to allow a person other than the earner of the medal to wear it dilutes the value of that medal. Now I do understand not everyone will agree with my point of view and they have the right not too. However, and I’m not sure when this practice began, legions began to issue their own medals. These medals are not real medals and are not approved by the Monarch, hence may only be worn on the right breast. From what I have discovered the RCL is the only National legion doing this, In the UK and other Commonwealth countries, members receive lapel pins for different services they preform for their branches. These medals too, may well have been started with good intentions, however, now seems to border on the ridiculous! the majority of Associate members (civilians) parade in our cities towns and villages with more medals than most actual veterans. As an example Tom Eagles (past Pres Dominion Command)who has never served in any branch of military or police wears a total of thirteen medals, eleven legion and three commemorative medals. (photo shows Eagles wearing his 13/14 legion medals)
It is worth mentioning that Eagles recently attended Legion meetings in the UK. At those meetings he chose not to wear is many legion medals! Can we guess why? was he embarrassed, out of place, guilty or simply felt silly. I realize there are a few companies producing such unofficial medals and are apparently quite successful. They for the most part, look good, look real, and many people are attracted to buying them. Nevertheless, they are not medals, and are not recognised as awards for service to ones country. It matters not how many of these fake medals one wears, they will always remain fake.
In conclusion, I find no clear argument not to have this section of (419) of the criminal code amended to allow blood relatives wear their late loved ones medals if they wish. I also would stress for those who disagree, it does not affect you, if you do not wish your relatives to wear your medal when you pass, I m sure they will comply with your wishes. Finally, I welcome and invite anyone to challenge me and offer a compelling counter argument. To suggest if not worn by the actual winner of said medal, it dilutes the value , that just does not cut it for me. Though I doubt such a challenge will come. So I again rest my case.
God Bless and keep reading