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Commentary from St. Lambert war veteran Okill Stuart: Click Here

 

This sort of thing really disgusts me. The bastards that took that ought to rot in prison for the rest of their lives. It'll serve as a lesson to anyone else thinking of doing something similar.

 

The guy who urinated on the National War Memorial in Ottawa was drunk, and apologized to the veterans.

 

Stealing a plaque is not something that someone can do when they are drunk, or drugged or whatever. Whoever took this knew exactly what they were doing.

 

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WWII memorial plaque stolen

 

SUE MONTGOMERY

THE GAZETTE

 

Sunday, April 01, 2007

 

Okill Stuart says it’s sad enough that his comrades in arms from the Second World War are dying off, but that someone would steal a plaque commemorating those who lost their lives fighting in both world wars, is too much to bear.

 

Sometime last week, thieves unscrewed the heavy bolts that secure a bronze plaque bearing the names of St. Lambert war heroes to a granite slab at the base of a war memorial in Hooper Park and made off with it.

 

“They trampled the wreaths and their holders,” a saddened Stuart, 86, said yesterday. “You wonder if they hated people who went to war or they just wanted the $50 they’d get for scrap metal.”

 

Stuart, who participated in D-Day, the invasion of German-occupied France in June, 1944, said the theft is shocking, and disrespectful of all the young St. Lambert men who went to war, most when they were still teenagers.

 

“Damn it all, they volunteered in the early stages of the war, they weren’t conscripted,” he said. “If it wasn’t for them, we’d all be goose-stepping down the street at Peel and Ste. Catherine streets.”

 

Claude Trudeau, a St. Lambert city councillor, said he noticed the missing plaque, which measures about 1.2 metres by a half a metre while on his way to city hall Friday morning. All that was left were the bolts, and large footprints in the mud.

 

“(The plaque) is fairly thick and heavy so it must be worth a fair amount,” Trudeau said. “But you need an idiot at the other end to buy it.”

 

Ironically, a crime prevention committee had been in the park the day before, figuring out how to install surveillance cameras.

 

“A lot of kids use that park for a hangout, so we fixed the lighting, making it three times brighter, and set an 11 p.m. curfew,” Trudeau said. “But we don’t want to live in a police state.”

 

Pierre Richard, president of Branch 68 of the Royal Canadian Legion in St. Lambert, said it’s not the first time war memorabilia has been stolen. A few years ago, thieves took a brass plate from a monument in the military cemetery on Ile Ste. Helene, he said.

 

“Someone in St. Bruno found it in a scrap yard, and after we negotiated with the yard owner, we got it back,” he said, adding he doesn’t remember what they had to pay, but a donor covered the cost.

 

“It’s sad, but these things happen,” he said.

 

Trudeau and Stuart blamed lax policing of the municipality since it merged with Longueuil and that town’s police force has a wider area to cover.

 

A Longueuil police spokesperson said a report had been filed, but so far they had no leads.

 

Derrick Marler, an 83-year-old navy veteran, said he was devastated when he heard the news. “They’re doing it for the money,” he said. “They don’t know what it’s all about.”

 

Both he and Stuart are preparing to go to a funeral of a war veteran tomorrow. Stuart had already attended two on Saturday and Friday, which makes the theft even more heartbreaking.“Our ranks are getting thinner and it makes me feel sad,” Stuart said.

 

Trudeau said city hall is willing to pay double what a scrap yard would offer, in order to get the plaque back.

 

Anyone with any information, can call St. Lambert city hall at 450-672-4444. The plaque can be viewed online at http://www.forces.gc.ca/hr/dhh/memorial/.

© THE GAZETTE 2007

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I wish there were more people like this mysterious donor left in the world.

 

War veteran offers reward toward capture of plaque thief

 

Ann Carroll

The Gazette

 

A Montreal war veteran has put up a $1,000 reward toward the arrest and conviction of the culprits who stole a war memorial plaque in South Shore St. Lambert.

 

The anonymous donor contacted the Sun Youth organization Sunday after learning of the theft, said Helio Galego, the organization’s crime prevention director.

 

“As soon as he heard about it, it broke his heart,” Galego said. The bronze plaque, bearing the names of St. Lambert war heroes, was removed last week from a low stone wall surrounding a war memorial in Hooper Park.

 

Local veterans say the plaque, which measures about 1.2 metres by a half-metre, might have been stolen for scrap metal.

 

If the thieves are not found or the stolen plaque recovered, the Sun Youth donor wants the $1,000 used to help buy a new plaque, Galego said.

 

The same donor last year helped replace funds stolen from a Royal Canadian Legion branch in Verdun, Galego noted. "He is very involved."

The anonymous veteran also offered a $1,000 reward towards the arrest and conviction of a man who urinated on the National War Memorial in Ottawa on Canada Day in 2006.

 

When a Dorval man came forward and confessed to the vandalism, the donor gave the money instead to the Legion poppy fund, Galego said.

 

“We often have donors come forward when something bad happens,” said Galego, citing rewards posted after home invasions and fatal hit-and-runs.

 

Sun Youth has paid out about $50,000 in rewards since 1986, he said. Anyone with information is asked to call St. Lambert city hall at 450-672-4444.

© The Gazette 2007

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