New Memorial Ribbon may not be what families need

by | Nov 9, 2012 | News

Miller said from the time her son was a little boy, he always wanted to be in the army. COURTESY WENDY MILLER

By Kelly Snider

The new Memorial Ribbon campaign by the Government of Canada is reaching out to the loved ones of fallen soldiers but some families want a different comfort.

“When I heard about the ribbon, I thought it was a nice gesture but I didn’t understand the reasoning behind it. A lot of the memorials and tributes get tiring,” said Wendy Miller, who lost her son, Pte. Andrew Miller, while he was serving in Afghanistan.

The ribbon campaign, described by the National Defence Department as a ‘memento of personal loss and sacrifice,’ was announced Tuesday.

Families who want the ribbon will be required to send an application to the Directorate of Honours and Recognition, and identify the deceased and list the names of the designated recipients.

“Our Government has enormous respect for the men and women who have made sacrifices in service for their country, and is doing everything it can to support Canada’s heroes and their families,” said Defence Minister Peter MacKay in a news release.

Despite the government’s good intentions, Miller doesn’t feel the ribbon will help when grieving.

“Will I be requesting the ribbon? Probably not. I’m not looking for financing, but this is not the correct support,” said Miller.

“There’s no book for when you lose a child,” said Miller. “The support I need is to be able to speak openly, and to talk to other moms who lost their child. The best therapy is being around others who are in the same situation.”

Pte. Miller, who served with the Task Force Kandahar Health Services Unit , died in June of 2010 when his convoy went over a roadside bomb.

He was 21.

Wendy Miller, in her second year of grieving the loss of her son, said this is when she needs support. COURTESY WENDY MILLER

“Andrew smiled all the time, and would give people the shirt off his back,” said Miller. “He had an old soul and would still call me his ‘mommie’ . We were like two peas in a pod; he was my bud.”

Miller said when she put her son on the bus, she felt like she knew he wasn’t coming home.

It would turn out to be his first and last overseas mission.

Dr. Alex Herd, manager of The Memory Project, said the ribbon campaign is an interesting move by the government and it shines a positive light on recent war veterans.

“I think that it is interesting the ribbon is for those whose death is attributed to military service on or after October 1, 1947, because it will give more exposure to veterans of Canada’s wars after the Second World War. I think we need to recognize there are other conflicts and other veterans to commemorate.”