Cowansville Legion members taking action to right a grave injustice
Cowansville Legion member Arnold Raymond led a team of volunteers over the past weeks in a special task of remembrance. Inspired by Raymond’s decision to fashion a homemade “veteran” marker for his grandfather’s non-military grave earlier this year, the team assembled and installed 200 similar markers on “unrecognized” veterans graves across Brome-missisquoi
“It’s sad that so many veterans’ graves are not identified,” the Legion member said, arguing that more work should be done by the government to recognize and honour those soldiers who served in various conflicts over time.
The exact number of unmarked veteran’s graves in Canada is unknown, but has been estimated in the past to be as high as 30,000. Raymond speculated that a significant percentage of veterans do
not have proper markers identifying their service. In the case of this project, he started with his own grandfather because of the personal significance of the man’s sacrifices, but word spread from there to the point where he had a list of 200 local graves to mark.
“That’s all I can afford to do,” Raymond said, explaining that he is certain there are more graves to mark, but that he is paying for the markers out of pocket. “I don’t mind,” he clarified, “I’m just giving back what those guys gave up all those years ago.”
Veterans Affairs Canada does provide a Funeral and Burial Program, but according to the Veterans Affairs website, the eligibility criteria vary depending on the circumstances of death and financial situation of veteran in question. In June of 1996 the Last Post Fund, a not-for profit organization established to deliver the funeral and burial program, created the “Unmarked Grave Program” whose objective is to provide a permanent military-style marker for eligible Veterans who lie in unmarked graves, but unlike Raymond’s project, the Last Post Fund program is only available to eligible Veterans whose grave has not had a permanent headstone or foot marker for five years or more. “They should all be marked,” Raymond said.
Arnold Raymond worked on his grave markers alongside childhood friends, all of whom had family members who served in wars in the past