The official description, eligibility, criteria, and history of the Memorial Bar.
The Memorial Bar is presented by Her Majesty’s Canadian Government to commemorate the sacrifice of military personnel who lay down their lives for their country.
Eligibility and criteria
To be eligible, a CF member must have served in the Regular Force, Primary Reserve, Cadet Instructor Cadre, or Canadian Rangers after 6 October 2001.
The Memorial Bar is issued to commemorate the death of a member of the Canadian Forces as a result of an injury or disease related to military service and which has occurred on or after 7 October 2001.
One Bar is issued for every eligible death and is presented to the primary beneficiary of the estate of the deceased (usually the person who will inherit the deceased’s medals).
When the death is clearly attributable to service such as in the case of direct hostile action, accidents while on training, etc., the Bar will be issued immediately. When the death is not clearly and undeniably attributable to service, such as in the case of natural deaths while at work (heart attack, stroke, etc.), fatal illnesses, suicides, etc., the Bar will not be issued until the Department of Veterans Affairs has made an official determination regarding the cause of death. In these cases, a delay of several months is to be expected.
Because the Bar was reintroduced in January of 2009, the Bars for deaths which occurred between the start of eligibility and 2009 will be presented to the eligible recipients at the earliest opportunity, either on the occasion of other presentations such as for the Sacrifice Medal or additional Memorial Crosses where applicable, or on a separate occasion. The wishes of the beneficiary will be respected to the greatest possible extent. For current deaths, the Bar will be presented, whenever possible, to the beneficiary before the funeral when the Memorial Scroll, Memorial Crosses, and any service medals the deceased may be entitled to will be presented.
A Sterling Silver bar, 14.5 mm in height, 67 mm in length and 1 mm in thickness, with a raised border decorated with knots and four holes in the corners to allow for attachment. The centre of the bar is engraved on three lines, in the first official language of the member, with:
- the abbreviated substantive rank at time of death, initials, name and postnominals (where appropriate) of the fallen;
- the inscription “DIED IN HIS (or HER) COUNTRY’S SERVICE”; and
- the date of death.
The reverse of the bar is plain except for the small marks ‘BIRKS’ and ‘STERLING’ in opposite corners.
The Bar is presented in a deep purple cardboard folder 10.2 mm by 12.4 mm, decorated with the Royal Arms of Canada in silver. Purple stands for suffering and mystery and traditionally was the stained-glassmaker's color for black, expressing negation, mourning, and death. This folder is placed in a cream envelope which has the Royal Arms of Canada impressed in purple on its flap.
The Bar is intended to be included in a shadow box which could contain the medals and other mementoes of the fallen, to be affixed to a picture frame, or used in any other way the family may judge appropriate.
During the Second World War, the Canadian Government, in addition to granting the Memorial Cross, decided to create and issue this commemorative Bar. The Bars were manufactured by Birks, a reputable Canadian Jeweler, and were issued from 1941 to the next-of-kin of those who died during that conflict.
In 2008, it was discovered that Veterans Affairs Canada had a stock of original, blank, Second World War bars in stock. These were transferred to the Department of National Defence. With the current situation in Afghanistan and following recent changes to the Memorial Cross, the creation of the Sacrifice Medal, and concurrently with the restoration of the Memorial Scroll, it was thought appropriate to take this opportunity to restore the tradition of the Memorial Bar as well to complete our Memorial package so it now forms a more comprehensive expression of the nation’s appreciation and sympathy for the families of our fallen.
The current Bars, reintroduced in January 2009 (retroactive to 7 October 2001), are in fact original Second World War bars, which are cleaned, engraved, and lacquered by the Royal Canadian Mint. The holder and envelope are almost exact replicas of the ones used during the War, with the necessary change of the Royal Arms of Canada.
The Directorate of Honours and Recognition of the Department of National Defence is responsible for the administration of the Memorial Bar.
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