Every Remembrance Day one Canadian woman solemnly lays a wreath on behalf of all mothers who have lost a child serving in the Canadian Forces.
This woman is the Silver Cross Mother, her position named for the Memorial Cross that was historically presented to mothers and widows of soldiers killed in action.
“The Silver Cross Mother lays a wreath on November 11 for all motherhood— for all mothers who have lost a child in the Canadian Forces,” says Bob Butt, the former outreach director of the Royal Canadian Legion.
Although their only formal responsibility is to lay a wreath on Remembrance Day, many Silver Cross Mothers are involved with Veteran’s Affairs and Legion events throughout their one-year term.
For the position of Silver Cross Mother, nominations are collected by the Royal Canadian Legion each year.
“We collect the nominations for Silver Cross Mother. There is a committee of three that sits and they look at each nomination.”
Last year, the Royal Canadian Legion selected Patricia Braun of Raymore, Saskatchewan as the 2011-2012 Silver Cross Mother. She is a graduate of the University of Saskatchewan and works for her local school division. Her son, Corporal David Robert William Braun was killed in a Kandahar City suicide bomber attack in August 2006. Corporal Braun served with 2nd Battalion Princess Patricia’s Light Infantry based at CFB Shilo, Manitoba.
Since the Royal Canadian Legion’s beginning in the 1920s, the Silver Cross Mother has been in existence. On the national level, the Royal Canadian Legion has been selecting a Silver Cross Mother since 1950.
The Memorial Cross was first authorized for presentation in 1919. Designed to be a memento of loss and sacrifice, it was authorized by King George V to be presented to mothers and widows of all causalities of the First World War. It has remained mostly unchanged through the years, with only small changes made.
The Memorial Cross has since been extended to all conflicts beyond the First World War and all service related deaths.
Additionally, recipients are no longer limited to mothers and widows. Today, the Memorial Cross is issued to three people of a Canadian Forces member’s choice and is not limited to mother and spouse. Butt says this could very well change the future of the Silver Cross Mother. “Maybe one day we will select a Silver Cross Father,” says Butt.
Although the future of the Silver Cross Mother may see changes, there are still many mothers who have received the Memorial Cross in recent years. “There are still 158 mothers who have lost children in recent conflict. That is an awful lot.”
The Royal Canadian Legion will be announcing this year’s Silver Cross Mother on November 1. You wll find more information in CMF Magazine’s November Ezine.