Friday, January 14, 2005

Patriotism Held Ransom

Artifacts from a life of bravery  Posted by Hello

At age 29 (then Lieutenant Colonel) Brigadier-General Dollard Ménard was the commander of Les Fusiliers de Mont Royal Regiment, and one of only 125 survivors who made it through the disastrous Dieppe raid on August 19, 1942. Despite being injured five separate times during the raid, he continued to command and lead his troops and was even able to evade capture. For his efforts, in the war and afterwards, he was awarded a dozen medals, including the Distinguished Service Order, the French Legion of Honour and the United Nations Bronze Medal for Peacekeeping.

He is a Canadian Hero.

Now Charles Ménard is apparently unable to afford the continuing costs of storing his father's medals so, instead of donating them to the Canadian War Museum, he has decided to redeem their "value" by auctioning them off. Originally he offered to sell the medals (for "fair market value," $20,000.00 plus) to the Canadian War Museum, but the Museum, which does not have a budget for purchasing artifacts, offered Ménard the tax credits typically available for a donation of this kind instead; Ménard declined the offer.

Cliff Chadderton, chairman of the National Council of Veteran Associations, says "This is what I'd call a slap to the faces of French-speaking soldiers who were at Dieppe."

How about a slap in the face to all Canadians?

Abraham Rogozinsky, the auctineer, claims their value lay in them being awarded to a single man. "One man received [them] for a lifetime of service, not just to Canada, but to the world," he said.

The medals are due to be auctioned off between January 23 and 27, 2005.

"These medals will most likely end up in England or in the United States," said Rogozinsky, adding that "If they were French or American or British, they'd be priceless. But Canada treats its heroes a little differently than most countries in the world. And it's sure a shame."

It is a shame. Shame on us.

In the past when the decorations awarded to John McCrae, Tommy Prince, and Fredrick Banting were auctioned off, Canadians rallied to come up with the money to buy the medals and donate them to Canadian museums. Almost $1 million was spent in the combined efforts to keep these treasures in Canada.

Come on everyone. If it comes to it, we can do it again.

No comments: