Geoffrey Reaume is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Health at York University, Toronto
Who would ever have thought that writing an article for CMAJ could lead to the re-discovery of precious World War I medals from a beloved grandfather that had been stolen a quarter century before? Well that is just what happened to me.
First, a bit of background. In August 1975, less than one year before she died, my maternal Grandmother, Anne Udall, gave me three medals from World War I which belonged to her husband, my maternal Grandfather, Francis Udall, along with a photo taken of him in 1915 in his uniform. When my Grandmother gave me these precious parts of our family history she said, looking at his photo, “He certainly was a handsome man.” A few years later, my parents, Josephine and Nelson Reaume had my Grandpa's medals mounted, along with his ribbons, identity tag, and the 1915 photo, in a glass frame which they gave to me for a Christmas present. When I moved to Toronto in 1988, I left the frame with Grandpa's medals in Windsor at my parent's home. I felt they belonged with his daughter and I also believed they would be safer in Windsor than in the big city of Toronto.
In early December 1989, thieves broke into my Mom and Dad's house, smashed the glass frame that was hanging on the wall and stole my Grandpa's three World War I medals, while leaving behind his military ribbons, identity tag and the original 1915 photo. The police told my parents that it looked liked the work of two thieves and that the thieves would probably melt down his medals. We were all devastated at losing these precious objects and in such a violent way. I remember going to my grandparents' graves and apologizing for what happened. ...continue reading