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Stolen war medals

Several high profile medals with histories that are very significant to New Zealand have been stolen from the war museum. The coverage of this on radio and television today has been extensive and, in my view, out of proportion. The tone of the reporting I have heard was strangely and worryingly close to the tone adopted during the recent search for Emma Agnew, a deaf woman later found murdered.

I do not mean in any way to deminish the significance of these medals, nor the crime of stealing them. However, it seems to me very important to draw a distinction between the award of a medal, recognising heroism and distinguished behaviour, on the one hand, and the piece of hardware, on the other. It is the hardware that has been stolen, not the award or the recognition of the person. It is a property crime, not a tragedy.

To profile the loss of medals in terms suggestive of loss of human life is to lose perspective in a potentially serious way. Tokens and reminders are important, but confusing the token with that for which it stands is demeaning of the very bravery and heroism for which the medals were given. Sentimentalism is no substitute for recognising and celebrating human greatness or human tragedy.

December 3, 2007 Posted by | News | , , | Leave a comment