If you ever feared the love and respect we lavish on our veterans has diminished to any extent, an unfortunate incident Wednesday at city hall should allay any fears the true meaning of Remembrance Day has faded over time.
Prior to the ceremony of remembrance at the Great War Memorial in front of the hospital, the Times-Journal was alerted to the fact flags flying at city hall were not at half-mast, marking the first time ever this tradition has failed to be observed.
When a photo of the flags was posted to our Facebook page, all hell broke loose.
Was this a new direction at city hall or simply an oversight on the part of administration or staff?
“I’m disappointed with the council,” posted Christopher-Raymond Trottier.
“I’ve always been supportive of their decisions, and I’d hope this was just a slip of the memory, but in any case this has no general excuse.”
To be fair, this appeared not to be the fault of any member of council and, in fact, Coun. Joan Rymal is being credited with rectifying the situation later in the day.
“St Thomas is the home of The Elgin Regiment . . . a historic regiment,” noted Steve Perfect.
“Though I moved from St Thomas many years ago it is still my home town and I am very disappointed with what has happened here . . . some one has to take responsibility for this huge oversight.”
Amy Mellor put things in a different light with her observation.
“I’d like to know how many of the people in the comments that are freaking out about the flag not being at half mast went to the ceremony at the war memorial to show their respect.
“While flying the flag in that position is a symbol of respect, your presence at war commemoration ceremonies shows your appreciation more than a damn flag . . . that no one even notices!!! Honestly, when is the last time you looked at the flag? Hypocrisy will be the end of us.”
Sad to say, a call to city manager Wendell Graves on Friday shed little light on what transpired.
“As a follow up to that we are going to put together a formal flag protocol and have that pass through council. So it doesn’t matter what the event is, we’ll have a flag protocol in place.
“We don’t have one surprisingly enough.”
Hmmmm. It’s not much to go on is it.
The city has managed to lower the flag every Nov. 11 for decade upon decade without a protocol and now the answer is to come up with a $1,000 solution to a 25-cent issue.
How sad on a day we gather to remember, the city quite frankly forgot.
YOU DON’T LIVE AROUND HERE
Earlier this month you may have read a curious letter to the editor from St. Thomas resident Ray Galloway.
He questioned the decision by St. Thomas Police Chief Darryl Pinnell to move his family to London, instead of continuing to reside in St. Thomas.
Galloway called the relocation — undertaken by Pinnell to be closer to his daughter in university — “irresponsible and a disservice to the citizens of our community.”
He continues, “The Chief of Police is not setting a very good example to our citizens when he is responsible for working with various groups and citizens in our community.”
Galloway does not explain how this is somehow an impediment to Pinnell undertaking his duties in exemplary fashion, which he has done over his long service career, whether living in St. Thomas or London.
Nowhere in his contract is it mandated he must reside in St. Thomas, nor should that be a factor.
And as was observed by someone who shall remain anonymous, you no longer have to be a Protestant in order to become a police officer.
There are many senior staff at city hall who do not live in the same community in which they work.
That is a personal choice and in no way has it been proven to inhibit their job performance.
Galloway concludes his letter with the assertion, “St. Thomas has never had a chief of police who resided in London and for obvious reasons.”
Sorry, whatever those reason may be they are not obvious to me. And if they have negatively impacted Pinnell’s ability to serve and protect this community since his move, well that too is not obvious.
Galloway, who prides himself as a historian, appears not to have done his homework.
The city’s previous chief Bill Lynch — who led the force for 15 years — likewise did not call St. Thomas home.
Lynch headed south to Port Stanley each day after clocking out.
So, if the issue is really about a police chief not residing in this community then Ray, your letter is at least 15 years too late.
Otherwise one would have to assume this is more of a personal grudge.
SO MUCH EXPERTISE
In time spent pouring over comments posted on social media this week, it’s a pleasant surprise to discover the pool of talent that resides in St. Thomas and neighbouring communities.
Why there are highway engineers, traffic consultants, experts in municipal governance, infectious disease specialists, architectural designers and literary critics, to highlight but a few.
My, but we are truly blessed with an abundance of gifted individuals.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“I’d run into guys who were in Europe and I was interested in their story but they wanted to know what I did and where I went. “I’d just say we were over there in the tropics on the Hawaiian Islands, we were dancing around with the hula girls and just had a ball. I think some of them believed it.”
St. Thomas resident Jim Davis, a Second World War veteran who was a member of the One Canadian Special Wireless Group, sworn to secrecy about their wartime activity in the South Pacific.
City Scope appears Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.