There is No Place for Disrespect to Veterans

March 28, 2019

There is No Place for Disrespect to Veterans

When the LAV III Memorial was unveiled in the heart of Airdrie in 2016, it was a day of monumental importance for all of Alberta and Western Canada. Not only was it the first time a LAV III Monument was unveiled in Western Canada, but it was also a stirring reminder of the heroism and sacrifice of the men and women of our Canadian Forces. It was an important day to recognize that Canada’s commitment to freedom, to building and defending a better world is ongoing – after all, Canada’s 12-year mission in Afghanistan is very much a part of our recent memory. At the time of the unveiling, I said, “the war in Afghanistan has created a new generation of Canadian veterans to be honoured” and the memorial would serve “as a reminder of the dedicated service of all of our soldiers and veterans who fought in both World Wars, the Korean War […] as peacekeepers around the world.”

I was deeply saddened and disappointed to learn that the LAV III Memorial was defaced on March 22nd. While vandalism has no place in any part of our community, the graffiti left upon this tribute to the 40,000 Canadians who served and the 162 Canadians who lost their lives in Afghanistan is not only disrespectful, but also heartbreaking. For while these memorials allow us to remember and honour the sacrifices of the brave men and women who have given their lives in pursuit of peace and freedom, these monuments are also tributes to our veterans.

The LAV III and other memorials across Canada and the world remind us that the wounds and sacrifices of history never completely heal. It is our responsibility to remember and to learn from our history. While members of our community were able to successfully remove the vandalism and restore the LAV III to its proper state, this event should never have occurred and must never occur again.

The LAV III was brought to Airdrie through the support and determination of many members of the community. This dedication and compassion was a testament to the strength of our community and duty to remember and teach others the importance of remembrance. On a nearby sign, the LAV III Memorial is described as an “opportunity for a full recognition of the contributions and events of our past as we collectively work to empower our youth on their journey to becoming our leaders of tomorrow.”

As we work to fulfill our obligation to remember and honour the sacrifices of the distant and recent past, we must work today to end the ignorance and cowardice that perpetrated this indefensible act. We must use this act of vandalism to remind all members of our community of respect and sacrifice, as well as the effects of PTSD, and how to better connect with our veterans and the memories of those who have been lost.

It may be time to update the Criminal Code, so that the penalties against mischief and vandalism to war memorials is increased. Most importantly, after this incredibly disappointing act, please join me in demonstrating that our community is always united in its remembrance and strongest when we never forget. Have your say here.