Saturday, March 17, 2007

oh we support our military alright ; monument snuffed.

Canuck soldier monument snuffed out

PETAWAWA -- A plan to erect an eternal flame monument at CFB Petawawa honouring the contribution of Canadian troops in war zones has been snuffed out after an intensive five-month campaign.

Lead organizer Dianne Collier said the demise of the Eternal Flame Project primarily over a site dispute has left her committee members "reeling in disbelief."

"Once more, military families have been shafted. My committee and I have been shafted. We have completely dedicated ourselves to creating a monument that any community would be proud to have."

The Armed Forces wife is so disappointed, she's planning to retire after 18 years of a "frustrating uphill climb" supporting military families in various ways.

"I don't have the desire or the health to continue to butt heads with people who say one thing but mean the opposite. Talk is cheap and, as always, actions speak louder than words."

Collier's committee had been trying to raise $20,000 to construct the 8-ft. granite monument in existing Home Fires Park overlooking the Ottawa River. The flame would symbolize the fact wives and mothers have traditionally kept the home fires burning while their loved ones were away on the battle front.

However, Collier said, a civilian with control over the park and Base Command have decided the site shouldn't accommodate the eternal flame.

"It boggles the mind how a civilian with no connection to the base has been given complete control of a park created by a committee of local residents that sits inside CFB Petawawa on DND property," Collier said.

She also said the Base Commander won't cover future gas costs to keep the flame alight.

"I would not have gone ahead with the project without his assurance as it would have been pointless," she said.

Base Commander Lt.-Col. Dave Rundle could not be immediately reached because he is away on leave for March Break until tomorrow.

Collier said people from across Canada and the U.S. have embraced the project for "our hurting community ... but all of that has gone down the drain."

Contributions will be returned unless the committee is advised they should be redirected to the Sapper McTeague Wounded Warrior Fund.