Adin Klaasen works to clean off a swastika spray painted recently on the Chatham Cenotaph. An unknown person painted two of the Nazi symbols on the King Street cenotaph, along with the tag CMB. Klaasen works for Sarnia-based Memorial Restorations. Pam Wright, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Len Maynard is fed up with the disrespect and damage directed at Chatham’s cenotaph.

Last week, the King Street memorial was defaced by an errant spray painter who left two blue swastikas and the letters “CMB” on the stone monument.

“It’s damn shameful,” the president of Royal Canadian Legion Branch 642 said the following day. “I’m outraged. Something has to be done.”

A 30-year veteran with the Canadian Armed Forces, Maynard lived in a lot of places throughout his career before returning to his hometown in Chatham. But he said he’s never lived anywhere where the community’s cenotaph is vandalized as much as the one in Chatham’s downtown.

Maynard said he’s approached the municipality and members of council many times about better security at the site, noting spotlights and cameras should be installed to better protect the war memorial.

“I’ve been asking for five years,” he added. “How many times do my brethren have to be subjected to this? There’s no more time for talk – something has to be done.

“I want something to be done,” Maynard stressed. “I’m a former soldier, not a politician.”

According to a Chatham-Kent Police Service media relations officer Sgt. Lynette Hodder, the Intelligence Unit has taken over the investigation, with the crime being investigated with “elements of hate.”

The police have no knowledge as to what CMB tag might stand for, Hodder said in an e-mail.

Defacing the cenotaph appears to be a recurring problem.

It was marred just prior to last year’s Remembrance Day ceremonies, and a Memorial Restorations crew had to be called in to clean up the mess before the event.

Last week Memorial Restorations employees returned to scrub away the paint. Many who were passing by paused to comment about the graffiti and express their disgust.

Chatham roads supervisor Corey Crow, who was on site, said that telling Maynard in the morning about the latest round of graffiti was a call he didn’t want to make.

“It’s sad,” Crow said. “But when it’s a hate crime, you have to do your due diligence.”

Besides the Nazi swastikas, CMB was also sprayed on. Crow said CMB is being seen in other vandalism incidents in Chatham-Kent, but no one is sure what the letters mean or what they represent.

“I’ve seen it spray painted on stop signs, for example,” Crow explained.

The Chatham cenotaph was built in 1923 to honour the soldiers who lost their lives in the First World War that raged in Europe from 1914-1918. Additional names have been added throughout the years following conflicts, including the Second World War and the Korean War.

The site is also acknowledged as the only cenotaph in Canada where actual battle occurred. The War of 1812 took place along the Thames River in what is now known as Chatham, and Chief Tecumseh was reportedly injured there.

Anyone with information or video that may help with this investigation is asked to contact Const. Fraser Curtis online at fraserc@chatham-kent.ca or by calling 519-436-6600.

Anonymous callers may call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477.) Tipsters may be eligible for a cash reward.

By Pam Wright, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original ublished on Mar 06, 2023

This item reprinted with permission from   The Chatham Voice   Chatham, Ontario
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