Opinion Letters

Medals substantiate soldier’s legacy: LETTERS

As Remembrance Day approaches, family members of deceased veterans are again questioning the Criminal Code of Canada wherein Article 419 states: “The wearing of orders, decorations and medals by anyone other than the individual who was awarded the honour … is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.”

Canadians do a very good job in honouring deceased and living veterans throughout the year and particularly on Remembrance Day.

As the years advance, we again (as when the last of the First World War veterans passed on) will be at the nexus where there are none of these veterans alive to emphasize the valour and sacrifice servicemen, and servicewomen, have demonstrated in defence of our collective freedom.

Medals are a tangible substantiation of that legacy. If those medals are stored in closets or stuffed in boxes like souvenirs from a past vacation, then that person’s legacy, along with the stories that accompany it, will in all likelihood be forgotten.

The purpose of medals awarded for bravery or meritorious deeds and actions is to remind others that the bearer of the medals sacrificed his or her health and well-being or (in far too many cases) life itself, as well as unwittingly exposing families and friends to the sicknesses of war.

If we fail to honour the individual, deceased veteran, then that person’s actions will simply become part of the generic remembrance commemorations.

While it is vital that we remember what Allied forces on a macro scale did to advance freedom and democracy, it is the actions of the manifold individuals within the larger model that must be recognized.

Those individual actions may be lost if we fail to recognize them.

In other Commonwealth countries, it is permissible for family members of deceased service people to wear commemorative awards on the right side.

Legislation to amend Article 419 must be introduced.

The wearing on the right side of ‘orders, decorations and medals’ by proud Canadian heirs of deceased recipients will certainly augment the honour the memory of the actions of our war dead.

Alastair MacLeod


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