War veterans deserve better

Letters to the Editor (The Guardian)
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Editor: Lloyd Kerry (July 19) is entirely correct about the triggering effect of letters. He mentions that mine of July 15 resulted in him receiving a phone call about the Plug Street memorial in Malpeque.

As a result, he apparently accepts that all is proper and historically sound with regard to Plug Street receiving its name from a Belgian battlefield — after all, politicians, bureaucrats and other key folks are “satisfied.”

Here are some facts. Firstly, despite the best efforts of the prime advocate of the Plug Street memorial to marshal supporting evidence, the Directorate of History and Heritage, Department of National Defense (DND), Ottawa, deemed the evidence to be insufficient. I was so informed by letter dated 25 September 2009 from the director, Serge Bernier.

None of the advocates has attempted to deny this — they just conveniently ignore it.

Secondly, DND’s negative verdict prompted the prime advocate to prevail upon Malpeque Bay Community Council to simply declare Plug Street to be a memorial to Island soldiers. This declaration was handled most improperly. It was not discussed at any council meeting and not the subject of a motion. This can be validated by consulting the minutes of council meetings.

Further, councillors were not told of DND’s negative verdict. Consequently, and knowing what they do now, some councillors feel that they were hoodwinked. Validation of that may be had by speaking with the person (a signer of the declaration) who now chairs the council.

Council’s arbitrary, uninformed and unfortunate declaration, later duly recorded by DND — nothing more — is the basis for the “satisfaction” referred to by Mr. Kerry. As one historian wrote of a completely different situation: “history is not on their side but it is firmly in their custody.”

Islanders who served in the First World War deserve better than commemoration at the corner of a potato field by a cairn and plaque that simultaneously seek to commemorate the adjacent road, the latter commemoration being a most questionable undertaking and having a shaky and ignoble footing. Speculation is no basis for memorialization and time will not erase facts.

Earle Lockerby,




Organizations: Department of National Defense, Malpeque Bay Community Council

Geographic location: Plug Street, Ottawa, Iceland

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