A Calgary monument dedicated to peacekeepers was vandalized over the weekend.
Rick Wright was just 28 years old and a captain serving in the Canadian Forces stationed Egypt in 1974 when he heard the devastating news that nine fellow Canadian peacekeepers were shot down on a routine supply mission over Syria.
“It always takes me back. Every time I come here [to Buffalo Park,] I can still see them. It is indelibly etched in my mind that we lost those nine people,” said Rick, who is the national president of the Canadian Association of Veterans in U.N. Peacekeeping.
That’s why Buffalo Park in southwest Calgary is so special to Rick. It is home to a monument of the soldiers who died when the Buffalo 461 crashed in 1974.
Rick and his wife Linda Wright, who is also a veteran, were tending to the Garden of Remembrance at Buffalo Park on Saturday when they saw the monument had been covered in chalk. The word “kill” was scrawled over the wall surrounding the propeller and plaque.
“That’s what I got really angry about: the chalk will come off but when somebody puts “kill, kill, kill” on each and every one of the pieces on the wall, they have no concept of what peacekeeping is all about,” Rick said on Sunday.
The men who died were all part of the United Nation’s peace mission in the Middle East. The UN was called upon in 1974 to create a mission, known as the United Nations Disengagement Observation Force. The tragedy continues to be the single greatest loss of Canadian lives in Canada’s peacekeeping history.
“This is dedicated to nine peacekeepers who lost their lives. To tar peacekeepers with “kill” is an abomination,” Rick said.
Linda and her husband said no one has the right to deface a monument, be it for soldiers or for a former prime minister.
“I was just horrified that anybody would deface a monument dedicated to people who were killed preserving their way of life and that anybody would think that it is OK to deface anything that is somebody else’s,” Linda said.
Linda and Rick are hoping to get a professional to clean the graffiti off the porous monument to prevent permanent damage.
They also hope whoever did it takes the time to learn about the men who died serving as peacekeepers.
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