Standard of Dress for the Arch Memorial Service


Cindy Allan, W3960:

1.     Hello, Bill!  I was interested to learn about the reaction of the Class of '58 to the dress of some on parade for the march to the Memorial Arch this year.  I attended the Legacy Dinner on 2 Oct because I sponsored a fourth-year cadet, but I didn't stay on in Kingston for the Reunion Weekend events this year.

2.     At the reunion last year, one woman in the final group on parade for the march to the Memorial Arch was conspicuous because she wore faded blue jeans and some sort of blue jean and tapestry jacket.  I heard many comments from other spectators about how inappropriately dressed this woman was and how disrespectful it was of the parade tradition, besides thinking so myself, and I mentioned her dress to Al Roberts afterwards.  He said that it wasn't "his" parade, it was the Club's parade.  I then contacted Peter Dawe as the Executive Director of the RMC Club of Canada, and suggested that the Club remind its alumni through the class secretaries and any other notices or the website that there is a standard of dress required for all who would participate in
the parade.  In addition, I suggested that there should be a mechanism by which those who are inappropriately dressed when they "fall in" would be asked to leave the parade. 

3.     When Peter replied last Oct, he wrote:  "You know, some things are important to me and some things are not.  To me, the most important thing is that the young woman actually showed up to take part in the parade, something others, with or without taste, didn't bother to do. It is my opinion that she will have learned from this and will wear something more appropriate next time, or not.  In the interim she is a young woman still serving, is in exemplary physical condition and speaks well; that puts her well ahead of many other folks in that parade despite the dress issue.  My opinion for what it is worth.  I will leave
this to the others to regulate."  As the President of the RMC Club, Tim Sparling wrote:  "I regret that the lady was inappropriately dressed and while we advertise the dress for the parade widely in our reunion weekend info, we will send a reminder to class secs (sic) of reunion classes to emphasize the dress.  That being said, I would never consider kicking someone off of a remembrance parade unless they were clearly planning to cause some sort of disturbance/protest at the service.  As far as I am aware this is the first time such an incident has occurred, so we will do the reminder to class secs and see if the problem goes away."

4.     I don't have the standing of an Ex-Cadet, but as a serving military officer I still believe that anyone who wants to take part in the parade should respect the parade concept enough to meet a certain standard of dress (I know very well that this would be Jay's opinion, too.)  Presumably this is a matter for the members of the RMC Club Executive to sort out, but the message I received last year is that they really weren't concerned about the question of parade dress for the Memorial Arch service.

5.     I have included Phil Smith as an addressee so that he'll have this background information.  

25 Oct 08:

RMC '58 has recently celebrated its Fiftieth, and of course we celebrated the occasion at The RMC. The weekend was a great success The weather was great, quite cool but the rain held off. All aspects of the Weekend were most positive, with the exception of the Memorial Arch Parade [the accepted name for what we used to simply call, "Church Parade."
Some negative aspects of that parade were minor -the poor state of the roads enroute to and from the Arch; not easy going for some of the Old Brigaders, and too long standing on the Square on our return, listening to sales pitches for the Foundation. The truly negative aspect was the deplorable dress of the junior Ex-Cadet squadron on the Memorial Arch Parade. There were few, if any, in Club blazers and flannels. Some were in windbreakers, sweaters and slacks, and one even wore something like a safari suit.
It so angered my classmates, and many others in the Old Brigade, that my class asked me to make our views known to the RMC Club as soon as possible.
Thus, what follows is the letter sent to the Club this week. I thought it may interest you; neither I nor my classmates have any reservations if you wish to give it wider distribution. I have already sent it to MGen Frank Norman and Cmdre Ed Murray, two long-standing friends.
Kind regards:
#3959 Phil Smith
Class Secretary
Extract from Phil's letter "The issue of greater gravitas:"
4. Dress on the Memorial Arch Parade:
Having spent almost half-a-century returning to the College on various occasions, always conscious of our dress on each occasion, it really is difficult to accept the more casual standards of the younger Ex-cadets, especially on this most meaningful event of the Reunion Weekend. We are aware that the College blazer and flannels have not been a dress item for cadets for about fifteen years, but that does not excuse the dismaying appearance of Ex-cadets in the "junior" squadron.
We recognize, too, the dilemma faced by the Club. If the Club is too harsh in setting dress standards, there is the risk that younger Ex-cadets will not turn out for the parade ... with the inevitable decline in future attendees at Reunion Weekends.

However, there are potentially serious  consequences if the Club does not develop and enforce some dress standards for this Memorial Arch Parade ... and it is indeed both a "memorial" and a "parade."  Are we being alarmist?  We thought a look at some Reunion Weekend, /several decades into the future/, might have the following scenario:

The current blazer-and-flannel squadrons are long gone, replaced by the "casual crowd." Indeed, the Club Executive is probably from that same group. There is no distinction between those on parade and the spectators, so why parade at all? The Memorial Arch Parade becomes a stroll down to the Arch for the service. The Cadet Wing is no longer be able to tell who is an Ex-cadet and loses interest in making a link between cadet and Ex-cadet. The RMC Weekend loses its appeal; class reunions hold their reunions elsewhere; Club membership falls ... and the rest is history.

Hopefully not.  The RMC Class of 1958 makes the following recommendations to the RMC Club Executive:

[a]. That the RMC Club establish a Dress Code for the Memorial Arch Parade. This code to include a standard for male Ex-cadets and for female Ex-cadets.

[b]. That the Club explore the ramifications of making membership in the Club mandatory for those Ex-cadets who wish to participate in the Memorial Arch Parade. We are cognizant of the difficulties this presents.

[c]. That the Club ensure that Ex-cadets be made aware that failure to adhere to the established Dress Code will result in they being denied permission to participate on the Memorial Arch Parade. If any such Code is adopted and carefully introduced, we are confident that the younger Ex-cadets will accept the rules of the Club, just as they have accepted the rules of the College and of their Service.
Many Canadians, and certainly all Ex-Cadets, are aware that The RMC asks so much more from its cadets and from its alumnae than any other university in this country. No other institute of higher learning in Canada has the obligation ... the duty, to prepare its graduates to go into harm's way ... to serve their country no matter the personal cost. We are indeed different from others; our reunions reflect our common heritage.

We, and others who come after us, have a duty to protect and maintain that heritage.

Submitted on behalf of The RMC Class of 1958:
#3959  Phil Smith
Class Secretary