The results of this extensive research so far for well over 13 years has sadly produced little in the way of locating these memorials to our heritage and history within Canada. Not from lack of efforts, but from an apparent lack of their even being in the country.
Elsewhere on this site I have listed the 7 known graves located in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba. I have also listed a ridiculously low number of only 5 plaques, monuments etc to these heroes within Canada. Ridiculous I say, as these men deserved far more acknowledgement for their hero status than they have been given.
Throughout these pages I have also brought you stories of two known public displays of medals, one that at one point was being offered for sale, and maybe still is, three others that I suspect are within Canada, and yet four more that I know are within the country but I have been asked not to reveal their names or locations, due to family requests. (Hopefully at least two of these will eventually be on public display.)
That being said, today I am very excited to share a success story that needs to be told.
He told the committee that... "my experience and the record shows that since the Civil War, immigrants have fought valiantly to defend this country. No one can prove to me otherwise." The soldier added that... On 23 August, 1945, I attended a ceremony at the White House with 28 other veterans. President Truman presented us with the medals. I was very honoured to have been included among so many recipients. I was also very proud that I, as an immigrant, had been selected to receive this award. I am happy to say that there are 714 other immigrants who have received the Congressional Medal of Honor."
This hero's names is Charles MacGillivary, PEI born, recipient of the Medal of Honor for bravery during the Battle of the Bulge in France in mid December of 1944. This Sergeant's story has been told on this site and many blogs have given further honourable mention over the past year.
At above left Congressman John F Kennedy is presenting him with the game ball at Fenway Park in 1945, the very park his grandfather tossed the first pitch at back in 1912, At centre President Truman is placing the MOH around Charlie's neck and at right is an image of Charles in later years.
Back around 2004 I became aware of this above referenced information about MacGillivary 's appearance before the committee. In that material there was a direct quote from the Sergeant that got my attention. He stated that back in 1975 he had gone to Ireland to present a plaque to the President that contained the names of 204 Irish born Medal of Honor recipients. He made the presentation of behalf on the Congressional Medal of Honor Society of the US, a body that he was at the time the immediate past president of. (It is believed he was the only immigrant president in the society's history.)
But what really caught my eye was his comment that... "I presented a similar plaque to Prime Minister Trudeau in 1976, containing 54 names of Canadian born Medal of Honor recipients."
I have been searching for that plaque since 2005!
In the spring of 2005 I wrote to the offices of the Speaker at the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa. One of the functions of that office is the security of the buildings. From that also flows much of what comes into and out of the buildings. Thus a good start I thought to locate this plaque.
But I soon received a letter advising that after a search no such plaque could be located. Worse yet, no information that it ever was there or put on display in any of the buildings of Parliament.
Other enquiries over the years produced no further clues. But then a spark. In a conversation a few months back with MacGillivary family I was told that there used to be a newsletter that came out from the Congressional Medal Of Honor Society and to check back to see what it anything might have been mentioned about this presentation.
Contacting my friends at the CMOHS I was later told that little was available but they did send this major clue about a month back...
But all this aside, this picture may well be one of only a very very few that actually show two Canadians, one being a Victoria Cross recipient and one being a Medal of Honor recipient.
I have never seen another!
Note that while Sgt MacGillivary in the 1999 appearance at Congress indicated that his plaque contained 54 names of Canadians, this article says the number was lower, at only 41.
Further, at Congress the Sgt said his presentation was made in 1976, but the details here suggest a presentation "recently." And a clue of the date suggests a possible event clearly after Colonel David Currie's retirement as the Speaker of the House at Ottawa. (Currie's story was told in this space just a few weeks back,) Colonel Currie retired from the Speaker's job in 1978.
So this would suggest a presentation in or after 1978. And at Ottawa, though the Speaker in 2005 wrote me that year say his investigation could offer no supporting evidence of the plaque ever being in Ottawa.
In a further conversation with the MacGillivary family on other matters re their hero father, the plaque again came up. I was then informed that the plaque was presented to some Victoria Cross recipients and it is in a veteran's government building in Charlottetown PEI and has been seen few times over the years, had been removed for some renovations and hopefully was by the time of our conversation, again mounted for public viewing.
In the continued search and despite all the mixed signals above, I made contact with an official of the Commonwealth Graves Commission at Ottawa t. He was very helpful during the work to see the completion and unveiling of a more suitable memorial to Commander Rowland Bourke VC, MC about a year back. (much appeared here in earlier blogs on this work)
I asked if he had any contacts with Veterans Affairs officials at their HQ facilities in PEI, and if so, if they could be asked to assist in this ongoing search. He was able to help, and I will bring those results on Friday.