Several people who made donations to the Brandon Veterans’ Memorial are upset that their relatives’ names are not etched in the monument. However, it appears to be a case of misunderstanding.
Don Berry, chair of the Brandon Veterans Memorial Committee, says they never promised donors that names would be part of the memorial itself.
“I know that some people had the misconception, but … it would never have gone on that memorial,” Berry said. “The reason for that is there’s just too many years that have passed since all those casualties from the First World War and there are many people who have died — not only the veterans, but the people who would have wanted to have their names on by making a donation.”
Berry said the monument is meant to be a tribute to all veterans, and it wouldn’t be fair to include some names while leaving others out.
In an article about the project that appeared in the Brandon Sun in November 2012, it states that for those who donate $100 or more, the “names of the veteran and the person who donated will be listed on a donor board at city hall.”
Since the official dedication of the monument a few weeks ago at the corner of 11th Street and Victoria Avenue, the Brandon Sun has received many emails and Sound Off submissions from donors complaining about the issue.
“When I went and took the money down (to city hall), I was led to believe the names were going to be on that memorial,” said Christine Hearn, who along with her siblings donated $150 in memory of their father, Jack Bennett.
Bennett was a Second World War veteran, who was taken prisoner of war by the Japanese for three and a half years. The family thought the memorial would be a nice way to honour their father.
“So his name would appear there and people would know he’s a veteran … and it’s sort of a tribute to him, too,” Hearn said, adding the family was disappointed when they realized the names wouldn’t be included.
Hearn’s sister, Joan Airey, doesn’t think a donor wall at city hall would be very practical.
“If you’re just visiting the city, who’s going to look at the wall and then go to city hall to see who it’s in memory of?” she said.
“I don’t want any recognition for me, but I do think the veterans who fought in the First and Second World Wars did face a lot of hardships so that we have what we have today.”
The city’s communications director, Allison Collins, said it has “always been the intent to have names of veterans/donors displayed on a donor wall.”
It is now anticipated the donor wall will be built in a more complementary location to the stone memorials, Collins added.
The Municipal Heritage Advisory Committee is meeting next week to make a final decision on the location.
Berry said they likely will list only the veterans, not the donors. They are now considering their options, including another granite piece for the opposite corner of the property.
“I know it’s in the discussion stage,” he said. “I think the memorial itself, it serves the purpose of why we had it constructed … it’s a tribute to all the veterans, and we will be looking after the names.”
Berry said whatever decision is made, it won’t be up until next year.
The memorial, located across the street from the Brandon Armoury on the grounds of the Brandon Police Service building, is a three-piece granite structure, framed by three illuminated flagpoles, with greenspace around it.
The $162,000 project includes a maple leaf at the top, as well as the symbols for the Royal Canadian Navy, Canadian Forces, Royal Canadian Air Force and Merchant Navy.
The two side pieces are four feet wide and include special dedications in both French and English.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 2, 2013