The Memorial Cross (more often referred to as the Silver Cross) was first instituted by Order-in-Council 2374, dated December 1, 1919. It was awarded to mothers and widows (next of kin) of Canadian soldiers who died on active duty or whose death was consequently attributed to such duty.
The crosses were sent automatically to mothers and wives who qualified, and could be worn by the recipients anytime, even though they were not themselves veterans. The cross was engraved with the name, rank and service number of the son or husband.
Recent changes now allow Canadian Forces members to designate up to three Memorial Cross recipients. This is specific to the Memorial Cross EIIR. For more information on these changes see below or visit the Department of National Defence Web site.
What is the Memorial Cross?
The Memorial Cross is an award that has been granted since 1919 to the loved ones of Canadian armed forces personnel who died in service or whose death was attributed to their service. It is granted by the Government of Canada and is frequently referred to as the Silver Cross. In the past it has only been given to mothers and widows.
The Memorial Cross, the gift of Canada, was issued as a memento of personal loss and sacrifice on the part of widows and mothers of Canadian sailors, soldiers and airmen who died for their country during the war.
The Memorial Cross is in the form of a cross pattee, in silver, suspended by a bar brooch, although prior to 1945 it was suspended from a light purple ribbon 11 mm wide. At the end of the upright is a crown and at the foot and the end of either arm, a maple leaf. In the centre, within a wreath of laurel, is the royal cypher of the reigning monarch: GRI for King George the Fifth, GVIR for King George the Sixth, or EIIR for Elizabeth the Second. The reverse of the Cross is engraved with the name and service number of the individual commemorated.
Additional information is available from the Honours and Awards Section, Veterans Affairs Canada, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0P4.
What is Veterans Affairs Canada's role in administering the Memorial Cross?
Veterans Affairs Canada can issue and, when required, replace to eligible next of kin (widow, eldest living child, eldest living brother or sister of the Veteran) a Memorial Cross for any Veteran whose death was related to military service in wartime or a Special Duty Area up to the period of October 7, 2001. As of October 7, if the death is ruled to be related to authorized military service, up to three Memorial Crosses may be issued to family members or loved ones as designated by the member or by his or her estate.
What do the changes to the Memorial Cross regulations mean for Veterans?
The changes will affect Veterans of the Korean War and Veterans with Special Duty Area service from 1950 to October 6, 2001 who were living as of December 12, 2008. Veterans Affairs Canada will contact the executor of the estate to determine the recipients of the Memorial Cross.
Any Veteran who is released from service on or after October 7, 2001, regardless of their service, may designate up to three Memorial Cross recipients in the event they die of their service-related injury or illness. Former members who completed a form while serving in the Canadian Forces must complete a new form for Veterans Affairs Canada.
Why were the changes made and why the cut-off date of October 7, 2001?
The criteria was updated to reflect the evolution of Canadian society and the nature of modern military service. The previous criteria for the Memorial Cross limited eligibility to deaths for service in special duty areas and recipients to mothers and widows only. This is not in keeping with modern needs.
The criteria was updated at the request of the Minister of National Defence to retroactively include all deaths, either Special Duty Area service or regular service, that occurred since October 2001, a time when the Chief of Defence Staff issued preliminary orders to Canadian Forces units to participate in the international campaign against terrorism. This was to ensure all service-related deaths which occurred since were duly recognized and treated equitably.
The Memorial Ribbon was created as a symbol of personal loss and sacrifice. Up to five Memorial Ribbons can be issued to the close loved ones of a deceased Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) member who are not already in receipt of a Memorial Cross.
Memorial Ribbons may be issued on behalf of any CAF member whose death is a result of duty-related injury or illness sustained on or after October 1, 1947. This is the first date inscribed in the In the Service of Canada Book of Remembrance which is dedicated to those who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving in the military.
Where can I receive more information on the Memorial Ribbon?
For more information on the Memorial Ribbon or to access the application form, please visit the Directorate of Honours and Recognition Website.
- Date modified: