By Olive Bryanton (a reader's view)
Joseph Goebbels, Adolf Hitler’s propaganda minister, once wrote that “propaganda has absolutely nothing to do with truth.”
That appears to be the case in the recent announcement of a grant from the federal government for the construction of a monument on Plug Street, Malpeque, to recognize/honour World War One soldiers who fought at Ypres, a concept based on a suggestion that Plug Street in Malpeque was named after Ploegsteert in Belgium a town near Ypres.
Jay Dee Murray, one of the people behind the project, contends Plug Street is named after Ploegsteert in Belgium, where Canadians were involved in battles against the Germans in the First World War. Murray believes an Island soldier who fought near Ploegsteert brought the anglicized name home and bestowed it upon what is now known as Plug Street in Malpeque.
The hypothesis or theory that Plug Street in Malpeque was named by a Malpeque-area soldier returning from the First World War has never been proven. Without valid historical documentation showing conclusively that Plug Street was named after a place in Belgium called Ploegsteert by a returning soldier, I cannot envisage why elected officials would support such a monument being erected.
Why would a monument be constructed based on an unsupported claim? Anyone can make any grand claim they wish and the grand statement may sound good but they are actually meaningless because they are completely unverified and hence unreliable.
The propaganda of saying “Initiatives like these in our communities help send a vital message of remembrance and gratitude to our veterans” is using the power of reverse association which is easily accomplished by handing out “awards” honouring others for something or other.
As a former resident of Malpeque, I believe the claim that a returning soldier named Plug Street would have been folklore and my grandparents or great grandparents would have had some knowledge of such a happening.
I would find it easier to believe the story that the street was called Plug Street because it always plugged with snow every winter.
I am adding my voice with others who are asking for validation and reliability of information before erecting the proposed monument to honour those First World War soldiers who fought in the battles of Ypres.
Olive Bryanton, MEd, LLD, is project co-ordinator P.E.I. Centre on Health & Aging, UPEI Campus, Charlottetown.