OTTAWA, March 6 /CNW Telbec/ -
The suggestion that the Victoria Cross should be awarded to Canada's
Unknown Soldier goes against the wishes of Queen Victoria when she
established the award in 1856.
If the plan is to present the Victoria Cross to Prime Minister Harper,
the National Council of Veteran Associations (56 member groups) considers
that this is a not-too-discreet way of politicizing the award of the
highest honour that can be bestowed upon a Canadian for valour in the
Also, it looks like a rather weak way of following a precedent
established for presenting the award to Unknown Soldiers of other
For example, the United States government awarded the Congressional Medal
of Honour (the U.S. equivalent to the Victoria Cross) to the Unknown
Warrior in Westminster Abbey in London, England on October 17, 1921. This
was closely followed by an award of the Victoria Cross to the original
Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, United States
on November 11th of the same year. This led to a major controversy in
America which resulted in other gallantry medals awarded to cover Unknown
Soldiers from other battlefronts in order to be "politically correct."
The Royal Warrant of February 5, 1856 contains a provision which
apparently would disqualify the proposal. This is enumerated as the sixth
ordination as follows:
It is ordained, with a view to placing all persons on a perfectly
equal footing in relation to eligibility for the Decoration, that
neither rank, nor long service, nor wounds, nor any other
circumstance or condition whatsoever, save the merit of conspicuous
bravery, shall be held to establish a sufficient claim to the honour.
A further provision is that the Award can be made by the Crown on the
recommendation of the following: the Secretary of State for War; the
Commander-in-Chief of the British Army and other senior officers serving
Another stipulation is contained in Clause 12 to the effect that the
Decoration may not be awarded "without conclusive proofs of the
performance of the act of bravery for which the claim is made." Again, it
is difficult, if not impossible to obtain any details of the service of
Canada's Unknown Soldier.
It is our understanding that the Canadian Decoration follows the general
principles of the Royal Warrant issued in the name of Her Majesty.
For these reasons, the National Council of Veteran Associations has
adopted the policy, established when we entombed the Unknown Soldier in
Ottawa on May 25, 2000, that he should not be elevated in any way above
the status of his fallen comrades and instead represent all fallen
soldiers and veterans regardless of rank or status.
Cliff Chadderton, CC, O.Ont., OStJ, CLJ, CAE, DCL, LLD
For further information:
For further information: For verification, please call Communications at
1-877-60MEDIA or email@example.com.; H. Clifford Chadderton, CC,
O.Ont., OStJ, CLJ, CAE, DCL, LLD, Chairman, (613) 731-3821, Fax: (613)