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Opinion: Improvements Are Required With Commemorative Stones

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Sky King’s recent letter was of particular interest as I had just visited RMC the week before to view for the first time my own family’s Commemorative Stones, purchased 5 years ago for me (RMC 71) and my son 23229 Jamie (RMC 05). Unfortunately my experience was not quite up to Mr. King’s high expectations so I decided to share it in hopes of promoting some “continuous improvement”.

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From the get go I thought the Stones were a great idea but was at odds with the Foundation over their regimented position that they were to be organized by Class. I had requested a “family plot” which was quickly rejected even though I argued that “Commemorative” programs should appeal more to the “esoteric” than the “bureaucratic”. (Eg. Family, comrades-in-arms, friends etc. before classmates.) At the time, I reluctantly accepted the status quo but it had less to do with the Foundation winning me over than my son’s preference for being immortalized with his hockey team rather than his father. (Alas, that didn’t work for him either.) So a couple of weeks ago, having returned briefly to Kingston to attend the 50th Wedding Anniversary of some dear friends, my wife and I checked out the family Stones for the first time. We were surprised by how few Stones there actually were. Despite that, individual Stones were not that easy to find as the “Classes” seemed to be arranged in some pseudo-random order, with the most influential Classes occupying the best real estate (perhaps as it should be). Notwithstanding, we found Jamie relatively quickly – he was out front, surrounded by a half dozen anonymous classmates. After ten minutes of searching, my wife found mine next to a bush behind the Arch. As I approached, she was vigorously (the irony is not lost) spitting on it and scratching it with her shoe to remove dirt and debris that had obliterated most of the inscribed words. It seems my Stone had subsided some; thus becoming a repository for run-off from the adjacent garden. So there I was, surrounded by a half dozen of my “classmates”, most of whom certainly share a reciprocal feeling – they would rather be anywhere but next to me!

Now for the “continuous improvement” part. I still believe the Stones are a great idea but I respectfully suggest the following enhancements:

1. Forget the “Class only” arrangement. There are already enough Class momentos, inscriptions, fund raisers etc., one of the best being the “Class Lists” in Mackenzie Bldg. Broader appeal should lead to better fund raising.

2. Spend the donated Trust money to maintain both the Arch and the Stones. (Maybe start with mine!)

3. Set up a “Stone Finder” index on the website so folks can use their IPhone to find them.

4. Seek input from ex – cadets (RMC Club Members?) to revamp the program (if
necessary).

My apologies to those I may have slandered with some “slight” exaggerations.

8969 Ron Routledge (RRMC RMC 1971), Houston TX

3 Comments

  • John van Haastrecht

    August 4, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    I apologize for the dissatisfaction with the placement of the commerative stones. It is difficult to satisfy everyone to their placement and it was felt to establish some order the class approach would be best. However we at the Foundation are open to constructive suggestions that have universal appeal .
    As far as maintenace is concerned the Foundation has only 2 staff members non who have a job description of landscape maintenance. We have however recognized that the College maintenance services have other priorities. Our new Executive Vice President Glenn MacDonald is putting into to action a regular maintence program with 3rd party contractors.
    The Foundation directs all it’s resourced over the cost of administrative services to the benefit of the college and the Cadet’s . Other than the staff previously mentioned all other individuals involved with the Foundation donate time and funds selflessly with the ultimate goal being to benifit the College and the serving cadets. Bear with us. John
    Current Foundation President

  • Yvonne Karn

    August 4, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    Dear Mr. Van Haadytrecht:

    My husband graduated in 1959 and this year is the 50th anniversary of his graduation.
    He died in 1995 after a 7 year battle with cancer. He did not live to become a member of the ‘Old Brigade’. Since he requested that his ashes be spread in the Pacific Ocean we do not have a specific place where we can honor him. We chose to have a commerative stone at the arch because he marched through the arch so many times and he loved the fact that the cadets were remembered there every Sunday. For all these reasons I hope that RMC will keep these stones cleared and readily seen so that my family in Canada and our family here in California can visit the arch and honor my husband’s life and dedication to the college. I would gladly pay maintenance for the area at his stone please don’t let it become overgrown and forgotten. My family and I will be coming to Canada with me in October for the 1959 class reunionand celebration of 50 years since graduation. We will be visiting my husband’s Commemorative Stone to pay respect to him.

    Best Regards

    Yvonne Karn W4542
    25421 Charlinda Dr
    Mission Viejo, California 92691 USA

  • Wayne Mac Culloch

    August 10, 2009 at 10:16 am

    I’m in agreement with Ron on this one, and have a question for John Van Haastrecht: Who, exactly, “felt…the class approach would be best”? I don’t recall this being debated by Ex-Cadets, who unarguably should have sway in the matter.

    The matter of the maintenance of memorials is a very important one, and the previous remarks have left me perplexed and, indeed, indignant. Why does the College push such ideas so hard if it hasn’t thought through the issue of long-term maintenance? Such short-sightedness is hardly the hallmark of the excellence of a professional officer so touted in its advertising. That the pleas for improvement had to come from those who had lost loved ones is especially damaging and can hardly encourage others to purchase stones. We must do better.

    I understand the seemingly constant fixation on funding resources and their uses, but strongly support and encourage the development of a Web-based index, both alphabetical and graphical, of this deeply heartfelt memorial, without delay.

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