OPINION: More protection needed for cenotaph

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The latest episode of vandalism at the downtown Chatham cenotaph is both an example of how far elements of our society have fallen and also how impotent our local officials seem to be in doing anything about it.

The Sixth Street memorial dedicated to Canadians who paid the supreme sacrifice in both world wars, Korea and Afghanistan was defaced by an errant spray painter who left two blue swastikas and the letters “CMB” on the stone monument.

During the past few years, such disrespect has become so commonplace that Len Maynard, President of Royal Canadian Legion Branch 642 called it “damn shameful.”

We couldn’t agree more.

Legion officials have advocated for increased lighting or security cameras without success. The much-ballyhooed Chatham-Kent police downtown camera surveillance approved by council almost three years ago hasn’t helped.

The pattern is predictable. The centotaph is damaged, local leaders decry the incident, no one is charged or convicted and the cycle repeats itself.

Protecting the cenotaph seems to be everyone’s responsibility but no one’s duty.

For those who aren’t familiar, the cenotaph features a soldier with his rifle and bayonet raised skyward, symbolizing the effort and sacrifice it took to uphold the freedoms we enjoy today.

It’s time that our civic leaders realize that the cenotaph isn’t a prop. It’s not a place for them to march to once each year, wear a poppy, lay a wreath and have a photo op.

It’s a sacred place – one located on a battlefield no less – that deserves protection and respect, if not by the criminals who deface it, at least by those who should be stopping such actions.

It’s often said the individuals and organizations devote time, effort and resources to what they think is important.

If that is true, where does the cenotaph rank?

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