Monday, 3 July 2006

Security at the National War Memorial

Last November I had the privilige of visiting Flanders and the Menin Gate. For all but ten minutes each day this memorial to more than 50,000 British Empire soldiers, including a great-uncle, who lost their lives in Flanders is a roadway entrance to Ipres (Ypres). At 8pm each day the traffic stops and a simple Last Post ceremony is held, often with a wreath laying by a visiting group. The memorial sees visits by tourists throughout the day as traffic passes under the archway of the gate. There is no security evident at any time. None is necessary as every school child knows that the memorial is something citizens takes seriously, evidenced by the ceremony as part of the community daily routine.

Today's Ottawa Citizen carries a photo of a young man urinating at the National War Memorial, and reports that "veterans" want increased security around the memorial. A fence is mentioned. We should learn a lesson from Ypres. Erecting a memorial is good. Holding an annual ceremony on November 11 is good. But how much better to ingrain the significance of the memorial, and what it stands for, into the minds of every citizen through a daily event, such as a Last Post ceremony.

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