Lt.-Col. Samuel Sharpe is poised to finally return to the foyer outside the House of Commons, more than a century after the former member of Parliament and First World War veteran returned traumatized from the killing fields of Europe and took his own life.
A bronze plaque bearing Sharpe's likeness is to be unveiled during a ceremony on Parliament Hill Wednesday, the latest sign of the country's changing attitude towards the psychological harm that Canadian soldiers have suffered from war for generations.
The Royal Canadian Legion last week took the unprecedented step of naming the mother of the first soldier to die by suicide after serving in Afghanistan, Pte. Thomas Welch, as this year's Silver Cross Mother.
"This is a seminal year for recognizing mental illnesses as a casualty of war," Veterans Affairs Minister Seamus O'Regan said in an interview. "And so many Canadians, frankly, are already there. They want this. So I'm happy we're kind of catching up."
Sharpe was a sitting member of Parliament when he helped raise the Canadian Expeditionary Force's 116th battalion and then headed overseas to command the unit during the First World War.