A battle is brewing in our community.
The controversy, weirdly enough, is centred around our Cenotaph. The main debaters are the local Legionnaires, with the Fire Marshal and District Council sitting on the sidelines.
It all started last month when the Fire Marshal warned the Royal Canadian Legion they would have to find a new place to hold Remembrance Day ceremonies because the Community Hall was not big enough to hold the hundreds of participants.
In a truce, the 100 Mile House District Council offered to put up tents outside but that was rebuffed by the Royal Canadian Legion executive because it would be too cold in November for aging veterans to stand outdoors.
Council agreed to a tentative plan to hold the ceremonies at the South Cariboo Rec Centre.
The Legion, however, doesn’t like the fact this would require participants to cross Highway 97 to the Cenotaph and has suggested a new plan: move the Cenotaph to the war memorial at the South Cariboo Visitor Centre where it will be more visible to passing traffic and closer to the Rec Centre.
But that doesn’t sit well with a local veteran, who was instrumental in getting the Cenotaph installed outside the Community Hall in 1994. He argues putting the honoured memorial out by the Visitors’ Centre would make it harder for people to pay their respects. The mayor agreed, saying “it’s just not a safe place to put it” out there.
It’s a pickle, to be sure.
But does it really matter? No matter where the Cenotaph is, the people who want to pay their respects will find it. They will go and remember and honour the fallen – even if they have to stand out in the cold or cross a highway to do it.
One of the concerns of the Royal Canadian Legion is that they can’t ensure that space in the hall will be provided to veterans but that shouldn’t even be an issue.
People who are attending the Remembrance Day ceremony should have enough respect for those who fought, and died, for our freedoms to give up their seats to those who served. Perhaps there’s even a way to reserve seating, or provide outdoor heating in the tents.
Given that we’re still in the midst of COVID-19, this may not even be an issue this year.
But even if it is, it’s not worth fighting about.