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National Legion president hopes theft of cenotaph plaques an isolated incident

Governor General David Johnston shakes hands with Tom Eagles, the national president of the Canadian Legion, after receiving the symbolic first poppy at the launch of the 2015 National Poppy Campaign at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015. Eagles says it's unbelievable that anyone would stoop so low as to steal memorial plaques off two cenotaphs in Fredericton.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
October 29, 2015 - 6:00 AM

FREDERICTON - The national president of the Canadian Legion says it's unbelievable that anyone would stoop so low as to steal memorial plaques off two cenotaphs in Fredericton.

"I know 99 per cent of Canadians do understand the importance of our monuments and cenotaphs," Tom Eagles said Wednesday. "They build awareness of how our veterans shaped the Canada we know today."

Speaking from his home in Plaster Rock, N.B., Eagles said he hopes it was an isolated incident involving someone in need of money.

On Monday it was discovered that three brass plaques containing the names of First, Second and Korean War veterans were missing from the cenotaph in the downtown.

A plaque from the cenotaph in Barkers Point was reported missing earlier.

Branch 4 Legion president Don Swain said some of the plaques have surfaced at a metal recycling business, but the names have been ground off.

Swain said police have a suspect they're looking for.

"He just wanted the money for the brass," Swain said.

"Probably in his little pea-pod mind, he probably didn't know what Remembrance Day was all about or what the plaques meant or what the cenotaph was for."

Fredericton Police spokeswoman Alycia Bartlett said an active investigation is underway but couldn't provide more details.

Brian Macdonald, a Fredericton-area member of the provincial legislature, a Canadian Forces veteran, calls the thefts "shocking and appalling."

The downtown cenotaph was also vandalized in 2009 when a large granite cross was toppled, shattering into pieces.

Macdonald said there needs to be some kind of security, but wouldn't want to see a fence erected.

"Canadians value these memorials and I wouldn't want to see them cut off from the public. Most of these memorials were built with public funds," he said.

Macdonald is part of a fundraising effort that had brought in about $4,000 for repairs to the cenotaph by Wednesday.

Swain said the provincial government has announced it will replace the plaques and is hoping to have the replacements in time for Remembrance Day.

He said money that has been donated will be put into a separate account and will be used for upkeep of the cenotaph and to install a security system.

Eagles said no matter what is done in an effort to secure cenotaphs, future incidents may occur.

"We just educate the people and hope this never happens again," he said.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2015
The Canadian Press

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