Just before Remembrance Day a controversy erupted between the Ladysmith Legion and the Veterans Motorcycle Club. At issue: should the Veterans MC members be allowed to wear vests with their ‘patch’ displayed in the march and ceremonies at the Cenotaph Nov. 11.
As editor, I decided not to run anything on that story in our Nov. 10 edition. There are legitimate questions to be raised with that decision. Undoubtedly the issue was news, and a newspaper’s job is to report news, no matter how unpleasant or untimely. But my thoughts were being weighed on a set of scales other than those that meet a purely journalistic standard.
And I’m okay with that.
The main reason for withholding that item was simple, and I think more than a few people will empathize. The World War II vets still living are almost all into their nineties or hundreds. For an increasing majority every next Remembrance Day could be their last. I simply couldn’t accept it as proper for me to mar that ceremony on the day before with a story full of recriminations.
As well, the controversy was getting plenty of coverage in other media. I didn’t feel the Chronicle would be doing a grave disservice to its readers by not adding its coverage to the mix.
Now that Remembrance Day is over, I’m not going to raise the specifics about the issue, unless it is raised by the vets themselves. What I am going to say is I hope the Veterans Motorcycle Club and the Ladysmith Legion can come to an understanding.
That won’t be easy. Strong feelings have been aroused in both camps, and it will take a willingness to negotiate to arrive at a modus vivendi.
Nor are the principles involved easily resolved. I’m not a vet, so I’m not going to tender any advice as to what should and should not be permitted in terms of regalia and symbolism at a ceremony as sacred and charged as Remembrance Day.
All I can suggest to both sides is: meet, talk, think about the future and make an honourable peace.
Craig Spence, Editor