11 November 2005

MIA and things to consider

Unveiling the National War Memorial, St. John's, Newfoundland, July 1, 1924
(PANL A-11-171)

Missing from the National War Memorial in St. John's again this year - Danny Williams.

Brian Tobin managed to attend at least one by my count before he scarpered back to the mainland. Grimes had an abysmal record of attendance as well.

By my count, he is 0 for 3 at the provincial ceremony in St. John's. He might have done the first one in 2003, but I can tell you he hasn't been there the past two years.

While we are on the subject, maybe it's time the Royal Canadian Legion consider changing the format so that the ceremony at that National War Memorial is actually something other than the City of St. John's one.

Here's some suggestions that change the way the ceremony runs. Some of it would just save time. Some of it would properly add groups or organizations that don't lay wreaths that should.

1. Drop the City rep. or have a wreath instead from the Federation of Municipalities.

2. Group all the veteran's associations (unit and branch associations) in a single, mass wreath-laying spot right after the Royal Canadian Legion - Provincial Command only.

3. Drop Dominion Command, which can lay a wreath at the other national memorial in Ottawa.

4. Invite the diplomatic representatives, especially those of allied countries. They may only be honorary consuls in some cases, but they still count.

5. Assorted service and fraternal groups can all go together at one time.

6. Organize the wreath layers on the monument so that we get a better flow of people. For years the whole wreath throng has been a gaggle that has to step over each other. It looks terrible; it is hard to go through; and it looks hideously unprofessional.

7. Given the limited space, move the band and the Singing Legionaires to areas on the sidewalk behind the monument. They can still see. They'll still be heard and the space on the monument plateau will be better able to handle the crowds. The public that gather there can move down to the sides or the bottom where the view is better anyway.

Compared to the modern site layout, the original layout of the National War Memorial allowed for more space and better reflected the importance of the site cenotaph. Years of neglect and compromise have taken their toll.

8. If that isn't feasible, then dip into the Ottawa cash and expand the upper plateau. While we are at it, let's rebuild the sidewalks behind the monument on Duckworth so that it isn't a walking hazard. [Personally, I'd make a pitch to have the memorial site transferred to the National Capital Commission to maintain along with the other national memorial, but hey I am funny that way.]

9. Regroup the military together into one proper series. It seems bizarre that the reserve units of the Canadian Forces (many of whose members are veterans) come behind civilian groups in the order of laying wreaths.

10. As a last thought, while the Royal Newfoundland regiment is headed to Beaumont Hamel next year for the 90th anniversary of that battle, why not also send a contingent to Ottawa for the National Remembrance Day services and parade? That would be a fitting tribute to a great event in Newfoundland history and also serve as a way of making the rest of the country aware of the significance of July 1st.