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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 January 2007, 12:13 GMT
Canada WWI veterans reject honour
By Lee Carter
BBC News, Toronto

Allied troops in World War I
A generation of young men were killed during World War I
Plans in Canada to hold a state funeral to honour the country's last World War I veteran to die have been thrown into disarray.

There are three such veterans alive in the country - all over 105 years old.

Last November, the Canadian parliament unanimously passed a motion calling on the government to hold a state funeral for the last of these veterans to die.

However, the veterans themselves have decided that they do not want to be given the honour.

Public petition

It all seemed to have been settled.

Towards the end of last year Canada's parliament responded to a huge public petition for a state funeral to be held for the last of the country's World War I veterans.

The parliamentary vote in favour of the idea seemed to decide the matter.

But there is a snag. None of the surviving veterans wants a state funeral.

The eldest, Lloyd Clemett, is 107. His niece and guardian, Merle Kaczanowski, says he just wants a simple funeral.

"He himself feels that there should not be attention to the last person but the attention should be given to all of them," said Ms Kaczanowski.

"There is always a possibility that people change but I don't really see that for Lloyd," she added.

Canadian government officials have acknowledged that all three surviving veterans have turned down the opportunity for a state funeral.

But Rudyard Griffiths, who is the head of the Dominion Institute, the Canadian heritage organisation that mounted the original campaign for the event, warns that the government should not ignore the will of parliament.

"If something is offered that is less than that (a state funeral), I think there will be some legitimate disappointment," said Mr Griffiths.

But privately Canadian officials admit that they are being forced to look at other options, such as a national day of mourning.

The last three living veterans are among more than 600,000 Canadians who served in World War I.

Timeline: Canada
13 Dec 06 |  Country profiles
Country profile: Canada
07 Dec 06 |  Country profiles

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