Monument of Piper James Richardson

Monument of Piper James Richardson

Opinion: A matter of respect

A statue honouring Chilliwack's most famous war hero is no place for a recycling bin.

Chilliwack should be congratulated for preserving the memory of First World War hero Piper James Richardson.

But here’s a simple request: Move the recycling bin that’s currently parked in front of his monument.

It’s ugly, and it’s disrespectful.

The statue, created in bronze by gifted artist John Weaver, was unveiled in 2003. It pays tribute to the 20-year-old piper’s heroism who, in 1916, inspired his comrades to capture a key position. Despite murderous fire and appalling casualties, the Chilliwack piper left his sheltered position and played his comrades on to victory. Their capture of the Regina Trench was the only objective taken in one of the many bloody battles that marked the Battle of the Somme.

Later, after helping the wounded, he went back for his pipes that were left on the battlefield.

He didn’t survive.

For his actions, Richardson was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross – Great Britain’s highest military honour.

In 2002 it was announced that Chilliwack would commemorate that bravery with a statue outside the museum. Led by committee chairs Mel Folkman and the late Dorothy Kostrzewa, efforts were begun to raise the estimated $85,000 needed to create the work.

In 2003, in an event that closed streets in both directions, the statue was officially unveiled.

Since then, however, that presentation has been marred by the appearance of a waste and recycling bin, positioned on the sidewalk in front of the statue. These ubiquitous bins are all around town, usually jimmied open with their contents emptied.

Their purpose is good, but this location needs to be reconsidered. It detracts from an important piece of Chilliwack’s history and obscures a beautiful piece of public art.

Richardson led his comrades to victory in 1916.

Surely we can keep the path in front of him clear today.