Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

War hero Prince's memorial vandalized for third time

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A memorial dedicated to Canada's most decorated aboriginal soldier was vandalized this week for the third time.

The five-foot-wide granite memorial dedicated to Sgt. Tommy Prince in Veterans Park was pushed over and had graffiti sprayed around it.

"It's frustrating," said Donald Mackey, chairman of the Sgt. Tommy Prince Memorial Fund. "They knocked the thing over. It had to be hit hard because it was mounted on a pedestal. It didn't break, thank God."

Mackey believes vandals hit the memorial, located at the corner of Battery Street and Selkirk Avenue, on Sunday or Monday. They've since uprighted the memorial, but he said it's not secure.

"A lot of people, this bothers them. They find it disrespectful towards our veterans," he said.

The memorial has been vandalized on two other occasions. In 2008, replica medals were stolen off the memorial. These were later found. A few years later, the memorial was knocked over. Mackey said he doesn't know why the memorial keeps being targeted.

"I get annoyed. The public gets very upset when they hear about it. Tommy was a hero in the minds of a lot of Canadians and it's disrespect to veterans."

He hopes to put steel rods in the memorial to make it difficult to push over. Eden Memorials said they are footing most of the bill to help reposition the memorial, leaving a few hundred dollars for Mackey to pay.

"He was an icon. I hate to see anything damaged," Lorne Raber, president of Eden Memorials, said of Prince. "I just can't believe how stupid people are."

Raber said he doesn't know when the stone will be back in place or how long the repairs will take.

"He's a Manitoba war hero and the fact that this happened, it's a shame to all war heroes," he said.

A mural of Prince at the corner of Selkirk Avenue and Tommy Prince Street has also been a victim of vandalism, covered in white paint on two occasions. After vandalism two years ago, the fund unveiled a new mural of the decorated soldier, Mackey said.

Prince served in the Second World War and the Korean War, where he won several medals for valour and a U.S. Silver Star. He died in 1977.

Mackey, 79, met Prince in Winnipeg in 1951 and served with him for six months. On Aug. 18, he will receive the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for his work with the fund, which has established Veterans Park in 2007 and set up an inner-city cadet corps in Prince's honour.

jennifer.ford@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 12, 2012 A2

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