An incident where a protester with the “Freedom Convoy’ jumped on the grave of the Unknown Soldier in Ottawa was described as ‘reprehensible” and “disheartening ’ by the current and former presidents of the Royal Canadian Legion Aldergrove Branch.
A video posted online Saturday by Steven Thornton, director general at the Department of National Defence, showed people pumping their arms and shouting “freedom” with one jumping on the top of the tomb that houses the remains of an Canadian soldier who died during the First World War.
“After explaining to these less than fine Canadians of the hallowed grounds upon which they trode, this was their reaction,” Thornton said.
After explaining to these less than fine Canadians of the hallowed grounds upon which they trode, this was their reaction in the name of Freedom. Unsat! pic.twitter.com/Mk7VVLsfxo
— Cmdre Steven Thornton (@S_Thornton_332) January 29, 2022
Aldergrove branch president Deb Gray called it “very disheartening to our veterans,” telling the Langley Advance Times that Legion members were “saddened” by the incident.
Former Aldergrove Legion president Doug Hadley called it “reprehensible.”
“There’s no two ways about it” Hadley commented.
“It should not be desecrated by a bunch of fools. All they’ve done is upset people and taken away any positivity that the truckers [campaign against vaccine mandates] may have had.”
A statement issued by the Royal Canadian Legion on Saturday “strongly condemns the shocking actions of protesters who encroached upon the National War Memorial in Ottawa on Saturday.”
“They jumped on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and parked vehicles on the surrounding grounds,” the statement said.
“This sacred memorial site commemorates those who fought and fell for the very freedoms that allow people in Canada the right to protest peacefully. We are dismayed and saddened by this overt lack of respect.”
Langley country music star Dallas Smith weighed in with an online post saying “this generation’s heroes are our front line workers. Period. No debate. Zero. All of us are out here eating s___ sandwiches. Everyone at home. Everyone rightfully and peacefully protesting in Ottawa.”
”Let’s not lose the plot on what it means to be Canadian,” Smith warned.
“Those symbols of hate have no place here. Those acts of disrespect to our heroes have no place here. Respectful, peaceful protest has a place here. No one has to agree with everyone but let’s not lose who we are.”
Smith posted several tributes to Canadian soldiers, noting that on D-Day, on Juno Beach, “600 of our best and brightest Canadians were wiped out within minutes. Real heroes. Real tyranny. True Canadians.”
They chose a soldier who died on the site of the first battle where all four Canadian divisions fought together as a combined force.
His remains were exhumed and flown in a Canadian Forces aircraft to Ottawa, accompanied by a 45-person guard of honour, a chaplain, Royal Canadian Legion veterans, and two representatives of Canadian youth.
In Ottawa, the unknown soldier lay in state for three days on Parliament Hill before being laid to rest in the tomb by the war memorial.
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