The Silver Cross Mother is a title bestowed annually on a mother or widow of a Canadian who has fallen in service for the country. It honours not only a particular mother or widow but all mothers and widows of service people.
But there is no Silver Cross Father. There should be.
The Silver Cross Mother is drawn from among those who have received the Memorial Cross, a memento created by King George V in 1919. For the first time in 2006, a widower received that memento. That was as much a recognition of women’s role in combat – this was Canada’s first death of a woman combat soldier – as it was of a man’s grief and supporting role. Women fight and die for their country. And men grieve for them when they do.
Some might say that some historical mementos should be left alone. The Silver Cross Mother, awarded by the Royal Canadian Legion, is a link with the past, with a long chain of grieving women and families.
But if it is a worthy award – and it is – then why not adapt it to give it more meaning? Why allow it to become merely quaint? It could and should be revitalized to include men, who after all grieve and suffer. One day, perhaps, a soldier will die, leaving two fathers behind. Should that soldier, male or female, be denied an honour for his or her parents?
The Royal Canadian Legion has an opportunity to demonstrate forward thinking. Women fight and die for Canada, and men grieve.