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