Monument recognizes sacrifices of our ancestors on battlefields which were very far from home

Letters to the Editor (The Guardian)
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Malpeque Monument

Commentary

Editor: In recent months, there have been a number of letters published in this paper about a project to memorialize World War One Veterans. We are united in our strong support for the Plugstreet monument, and believe the vast majority of our community feels the same.

There has been some comment that the rationale behind the placement of the monument is flawed; that Plugstreet does not meet the historical threshold to be chosen as the site of such a tribute.

That argument should be silenced by the very fact that, after reviewing our detailed submission, the federal Community War Memorial Program saw the significance of this project.  Our documentation was extensive, and our logic for placement such that the Governments of Canada and Prince Edward Island granted their approval and a Partnership Agreement was signed.

We would point out that those who dispute the ties between the Great War and Plugstreet always stress the origins of the word “plug” to the complete exclusion of the word “street”.  It is worth noting that by the end of World War I, over a century had passed since any Princetown Royalty roadway was named “street”. Thus, if local folks had named it, they would have more likely chosen Plug Road, Lane, Line or even Avenue — as was customary at that time.

Our group would like to make a few additional points of clarification.

This project was not “pushed” by elected officials. It reached the provincial Cabinet table and was then championed by those who immediately recognized its significance for our area.

It is not only Ypres Salient Veterans being honoured, to the exclusion of others. This monument will serve as tribute to all the brave men and women who served our country during the First World War.  

It is our hope that a new generation will visit the monument to learn about the great sacrifices of their ancestors, many of whom lost their lives in service to our Country.

Some have mentioned a “Battle of Plugstreet,” but history does not record such a specific event. The fact is that trench warfare occurred in the area when Lieutenant Colonel Winston S. Churchill and Major J. Andrew Macphail served there but, by the time of Passchendaele, Plugstreet now far to the rear, was a “safe-haven” where troops were billeted for a rest period.

As for the location, a site in the city has been advocated. The memorial is the Plugstreet roadway, which cannot be moved. As the majority of P.E.I. Great War Veterans came from the rural areas, the site is most appropriate.

It is not hidden in a potato field, but on crown land at the junction of the highly travelled Highway 20 and Plugstreet.

Some have asked about the cost. The federal government will provide $19,500. There are corporate donations for the land, stonework and other various materials. The province is providing an in-kind contribution. That is, among other things, they will be responsible for upkeep at the site.

Our group has proven to the satisfaction of the top military historians in Canada, along with the CWMP staff, that no one but a Great War Veteran could have named Plugstreet. We know from evidence that Veteran was 444790 Corporal George Ellwin Champion.

It must be appreciated that the aim of our project is to memorialize veterans of the Great War, not to aggrandize the position of Plugstreet within our community. We are offended by the notion that another monument is not necessary since there are already others across the province.

Can there be too many ways to remember those who gave so much of themselves? We would also point out that while most World War I monuments in P.E.I. are dedicated to those killed in that conflict; this monument is a tribute to all who served.  

We appreciate the resounding support from many thus far. All three orders of government, as well as the Lt. Col. E.W. Johnstone Royal Canadian Legion Branch #9 and the Provincial Command, have approved the monument for this location.  We look forward to unveiling this important project, which recognizes the sacrifices made by so many of our ancestors on battlefields so very far from home.  

                                                      

Colonel S. Dennis Hopping, Honorary Colonel,

P.E.I. Regt, Legion Representative

Colonel J. Darrach Murray, (Retired),

Project Coordinator

Gilles Painchaud , P.E.I. Command President, Royal Canadian Legion

Wes Sheridan, MLA Kensington-Malpeque,

Project Director

Organizations: Lt. Col. E.W. Johnstone Royal Canadian Legion Branch

Geographic location: Canada, Prince Edward Island, Plug Road Kensington

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