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Letter: The rush to Christmas disrespected veterans in New West

Why did a Christmas tree have to start going up on Nov. 11?
The rush to get Christmas decorations up on Nov. 11 was disrespectful to those who served in Canada's military, this letter writer says.


I’ve just come in from Westminster Centre on Remembrance Day (Friday, Nov. 11) and would like to comment how just exactly the management has “honoured” the veterans.

A Christmas tree is being erected at the entrance by McDonald's.

I guess that the mall management could hardly wait to get the tree up so they can lure shoppers into the mall and increase their bottom line.

On a day that is set aside to honour those who served in the military, survived the horrors of war, died from military action or their injuries, is it too late to expect Westminster Centre to even do that before rushing to “move on” to the next holiday.

My paternal grandfather served in the British forces in the First World War, survived the trenches of the Somme and then went home to Scotland at war’s end, just to wind up dying in the Spanish Flu epidemic. My uncles Ole Bennedsen, USAAC and Edwin Wishart, USArmy, served in the Second World War. My father was a Battle of Britain pilot, my mother dropped behind the lines in France as a British operative on her 18th birthday, April 2, 1942. My stepfather survived the Bataan Death march and a Japanese POW camp. My mom’s cousin was shot down over Korea and was incarcerated in a North Korean POW camp.

I myself served in the USAF as a “burns specialist” in Vietnam. Believe me, I saw a lot of young men horribly disfigured/die during my tour of duty.

I wear an MIA bracelet with the name of Marine Captain Paul S. Gee, with the date of Jan. 16, 1968 and “SVN” engraved on it. He and his co-pilot were recently declared KIA. Paul was from Wisconsin. And was 24 years old. I will always wear his MIA bracelet in order to honour his service and his memory.

Now we have the survivors of Afghanistan and Iraq dealing with their particular memories of the horrors of war. And my cousin Scott’s son, Robert Bennedsen, age 25, who stepped on an IED in Afghanistan after pulling six Canadian Army servicemen, all of whom survived because of him, out of a truck which had been hit by mortar fire.

My son, whom I no longer have, was a member of the Canadian Forces.

And Westminster Centre mall management couldn't even wait until after the mall was closed, at 8 p.m., to erect a Christmas tree.

Shame on you.

Katherine Wishart