The Wearing of Medals.

I hope today to speak with the Honours Policy Officer in Ottawa regarding this subject. I no longer feel this should be the prerogative of the RCL. There are as many veterans in Canada today as at the end of the Second World war. The great majority of those veterans are not members of the legion. Section 419 should be modified to allow blood relatives to wear late loved ones medals on special occasions. To those whom disagree, inform your family not to wear your medals when you are gone, its as simple as that. However, why should others be denied because of those views???? It is worth a mention that many of those whom oppose this amendment wear an array of legion medals on their right breasts

Over the past several years there has been an undercurrent of support to allow the wearing of “another’s” medals as a form of tribute to both the person whose medals are worn as well as the conflict those medals represent. Within Canada the wearing of “another’s” medals is technically against the law and people doing so are subject to prosecution under Section 419 of the Criminal Code of Canada.
Combining the fact that other allied/commonwealth countries with similar laws have made exceptions on behalf of remembrance (see attached fact sheet) as well as the fact that Canadians have at times unknowingly broke the law by wearing “another’s” medals it is felt that there is an opportunity for the Legion to lead the way in establishing a precedent that would enhance remembrance in Canada. The intent would be to lobby the government to modify Section 419 to allow the wearing of “another’s” medals at significant times under a specific outlined protocol that would both enhance remembrance and engage Canadians in the process. Specific reasoning is:
* It would allow people who have no personal military background the opportunity to reconnect and honour those in their past that have. Demonstrating a visual connection to veterans can demonstrate how far reaching their effect is.
* It could help to remind and encourage people to honour Remembrance Day by giving them a personal stake in the process.
* It would help keep the memories of those veterans who have died alive and reinforce the sacrifices made not only in war but on the home front as well. This is all the more important with the passing of all WWI vets and the rapid decline of WWII and Korea vets.
* It would help reinforce the importance of medals and the correct protocol for their use.
* It could provide a visual poignant reminder to all that Canada has done its part and that there is a need to remember.
Lobbying to allow the wearing of medals of “another” includes the protocol that should be used in order to separate the remembrance/honouring aspect from that of those wearing medals to impersonate or misrepresent. As such the following guidelines are recommended:
* Only medals of deceased veterans are eligible to be worn by relatives or a designated person.
* If one has their own medals then they should not wear “another’s” at the same time.
* “Another’s” medals should be worn on the right hand side with no other medals on the left or right (i.e. Legion medals).
* “Another’s” medals should be sanctioned for wear on Remembrance Day and other ceremonies such as The Battle of the Atlantic, Peacekeeper Day, significant anniversaries ceremonies (D-Day, Korea, etc).
* “Another’s” medals should not be worn while in uniform of any kind.
RECOMMENDATION: That the Legion supports the decriminalization of wearing “another’s” medals within the parameters established within this section.
MOTION: That the Legion supports the DECRIMINALIZATION of wearing anothers medals within the parameters established in this section.
Makes one wonder about the latest legion motto “Preparing for the 21st Century”
So folks the fight continues!!!!See below the laws of the UK,NZ, AUST and USA
Canada – Article 419 of the Criminal Code of Canada prohibits the wearing of orders, decorations and medals by anyone other than the individual who was awarded the honour. The statute does not set out a specific penalty, but for summary conviction offences, the penalty is a maximum of six months imprisonment or a $5,000 fine or both. Rarely if ever enforced. According to Justice Canada, there were no charges for 2009-10, the last year for which it has statistical data. In 2008-09, there were four charges, all of which were eventually stayed or withdrawn; in 2007-08, there were eight charges, two of which led to convictions and six either stayed or withdrawn.
Britain – War medals and service decorations of any sort may be worn only by the person upon whom they were conferred, and in no case does the right to wear war or service medals, or their ribbons, pass to any relative when the recipient is dead. Modifications of the above rule are permitted in connection with Remembrance Day, when relatives who desire to avail themselves, on those days only, of the distinction of wearing the decoration and medals of deceased relatives, they may do so, wearing them on the right breast. – While it is not an offence to own medals which have not been awarded to you, it is illegal under section 197 of the Army Act 1955 to use these to pretend to be a member of the armed forces.
New Zealand – Permissible for relatives of soldiers are allowed to wear their medals on their right chest for national days of memorial like Anzac Day and Remembrance Day.
Australia – A custom has evolved for people to wear the awards of deceased family members when marching in their place at commemorative events such as Anzac Day and Remembrance Day. The Returned and Services League (RSL) encourages people to wear their forebears medals on the right breast, which indicates the awards are not their own.
A similar law permitting relatives to wear medals exists in the USA
God Bless and keep reading


About irishroverpei

Author of "Lily & Me", "The Royal Navy & Me" and Chapter XXl Armageddon. Writer, blogger and RN Submariner, antique automobile enthusiast.
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