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Robert Barron column: Yet another sad desecration of memorial wreaths

Damage done to commemorative wreaths that were laid at the Cenotaph in Charles Hoey Park
Robert’s column

It’s happened again; the second time in less than a year.

One or more people with no respect for anything but themselves have done damage to commemorative wreaths that were laid at the Cenotaph in Charles Hoey Park.

A number of wreaths were laid at the Cenotaph on Sept. 19 by members of the local Royal Canadian Legion Branch 53 and RCMP officers in full red serge during a ceremony to honour the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

Two days later, two women who were at the ceremony dropped by my office to tell me what happened to those wreaths.

Trish and Laurie (they chose not to give me their last names) were driving along Cowichan Way, close to the Real Canadian Superstore, earlier that day and spotted what looked like two of same wreaths tossed to the side of the road.

They told me that they just couldn’t believe someone would take them so heartlessly from their honoured positions by the Cenotaph and callously throw them from their vehicle into a ditch a few kilometres away, so they drove to the Cenotaph to ensure they weren’t the same wreaths.

To their horror and frustration, they discovered the two wreaths were missing so they hurriedly made their way back to Cowichan Way to retrieve them and return them to where they originally stood.

Trish, who told me members of her family as well as Laurie’s had fought in wars, said they were incensed that someone would show such disrespect to a monument commemorating those who fought and died for our freedom.

“If they don’t believe in the monarchy, that’s their opinion, but at the Cenotaph with all those names on it, the people who did this are saying that they think the soldiers behind those names died for nothing,” she said.

“These people obviously don’t think much of the freedoms and perks they have because of what these soldiers did for them. This was really disrespectful. We should all be better than this.”

Last year, shortly after the annual Remembrance Day ceremony by members of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 53 at the Cenotaph on Nov. 11, someone smashed three of the wreaths laid in the ceremony to pieces.

Legion member Tim Spencer, who discovered the smashed-up wreaths, told me at the time that the wreaths are meant to commemorate the people who died fighting for their country and are a symbol of honour.

“People should know that the wreaths are not a celebration of war, but a recognition of the courage of people willing to give their lives for a good cause,” Spencer said.

“I hope by going public with this, it will remind everyone the purpose of Remembrance Day and what the wreaths are all about.”

With this year’s Remembrance Day just weeks away, scumbags who have the incredible audacity to dare such an act should know there is a legal price to pay for it.

Canada’s criminal code states that “anyone who commits mischief in relation to property that is a building, structure or part thereof that primarily serves as a monument to honour persons who were killed or died as a consequence of a war, including a war memorial or cenotaph, or an object associated with honouring or remembering those persons that is located in or on the grounds of such a building or structure, or a cemetery is guilty of an indictable offence or an offence punishable on summary conviction and is liable.”

The penalty for a first offence for such mischief or vandalism is a $1,000 fine; imprisonment of no less than 14 days for a second offence; and imprisonment of no less than 30 days for each subsequent offence.

But I think fines and short prison terms are too good for people of such low moral character as these people obviously are.

I think that if they are caught, they should be made to join the Canadian Armed Forces and sent to the first available war zone.

I bet they’d have a whole new respect for Cenotaphs and wreaths when they return.

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