Letter to the Editor - Re: Victoria Cross for Canada's Unknown Soldier

    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
    Her Majesty.

    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
    Chairman, Ottawa

For further information:

For further information: For verification, please call Communications at
1-877-60MEDIA or communications@waramps.ca.; H. Clifford Chadderton, CC,
O.Ont., OStJ, CLJ, CAE, DCL, LLD, Chairman, (613) 731-3821, Fax: (613)
731-3234, administration@waramps.ca

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