National Silver Cross Mother

The Memorial Cross (more often referred to as the Silver Cross) was first authorized on December 1, 1919 as a memento of personal loss and sacrifice on the part of widows and mothers of Canadian sailors, aviators and soldiers who died for their country during the war.

Today, the National Silver Cross Mother is chosen by the Legion among nominations made by Legion Provincial Commands and individuals to represent the mothers of Canada at the National Remembrance Day Ceremony in Ottawa. At the Ceremony, the National Silver Cross Mother places a wreath at the base of the National War Memorial on behalf of all those mothers who have lost children in the military service of Canada. During her tenure, which starts on November 1, the National Silver Cross Mother fulfills other official functions.

 

2018 National Silver Cross Mother – Ms. Anita Cenerini

Mrs. Cenerini's son, Private Thomas Welch, was a respected member of 6 Platoon, November Company through the training and deployment as part of Op ATHENA, Roto 0 to Afghanistan in August 2003, where he served as a C9 Gunner. Less than three months after returning from Afghanistan, Thomas died by suicide in Petawawa, ON. His death on May 8, 2004, is marked as the first death by suicide of a Canadian Soldier after returning home from the Afghanistan mission. 

As the National Silver Cross Mother, Mrs. Cenerini will place a wreath at the National War Memorial on 11 November 2018 on behalf of all Canadian mothers who have lost a son or a daughter in the military service of Canada. Throughout the year, she will also be called upon to perform other duties honouring the Fallen from all conflicts.

Biography

Ms. Anita Cenerini

Anita Cenerini spent much of her early life in Ontario’s northern and southern regions. She currently lives in Winnipeg with her husband Grant and their teenaged son Jacob.

While living in Northern Ontario, Anita raised her late son Thomas and daughter Michelle with her first husband Daniel Welch. She was active in the Catholic Church, volunteering in the Children’s ministry and serving as the President of the Catholic Women’s Society. She also sat on the church board.

Over the following years, Anita and her first two children moved to London, ON and then to Owen Sound, ON while she pursued her studies at the University of Western Ontario and Georgian Bay College’s Entrepreneurial program, respectively. She worked at the University of Western Ontario and volunteered as a support person with the AIDS Committee of London during her time in London. While in Owen Sound, she volunteered as a victim support person with Victim’s Assistance, the precursor to Victim’s Assistance Bruce Grey Perth - a crisis intervention support services organization.

Later returning to London, Anita’s family grew with her new husband, Grant Palmer, and his two older sons Michael and Thomas Palmer. Their youngest son Jacob was born and Anita spent the next few years caring for her growing family. She, her husband, and Jacob then moved to Winnipeg where they began a home-based Accounting and Bookkeeping business, which continues today.

Anita’s family’s ongoing commitment to service is reflected in her son Jacob’s recent enrollment in the Canadian Armed Forces Primary Reserves with The Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada, under 3rd Canadian Division, 38 Canadian Brigade Group at Minto Armouries, in Winnipeg. 

When possible, Anita enjoys spending time with her grandson Reed, born in 2017 to her daughter Michelle, who lives in Ontario. Anita also participates in many outdoor activities and recreational sports, still finding time to volunteer with community organizations and church activities.

Anita ran in the 2017 Army Run in Ottawa in memory of her son Thomas Welch, and in support of those who serve in the military.

Biography

Private Thomas Welch

Thomas Welch was an infantryman and member of 3rd Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment, based in Petawawa, ON.

SCM 2018  son Thomas Welch_webBorn on October 25, 1981 in Thunder Bay, ON, Thomas joined the Canadian Armed Forces in 2001. He received his Infantry Qualification in February 2002, with the distinction of being one of the top graduates in his platoon. He then became a member of The Royal Canadian Regiment, joining 3rd Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment, in May 2002. 

Thomas was a respected member of 6 Platoon, November Company through the training and deployment as part of Op ATHENA, Roto 0 to Afghanistan in August 2003, where he served as a C9 Gunner.

Less than three months after returning from Afghanistan, Thomas died by suicide in Petawawa, ON.  His death on May 8, 2004, is marked as the first death by suicide of a Canadian Soldier after returning home from the Afghanistan mission. His death was later deemed attributable to military service after Thomas’ mother Anita Cenerini shared details of her son’s deteriorating mental health during and post deployment. The stress of the operation was visible to his close family early in his deployment and included significant changes in his behaviour, mood and demeanor upon his return.

During his deployment, Thomas was described as a quiet, cheerful person whose attitude was valued among peers, and helped boost platoon morale. Those around him reported that the stress Thomas felt was not reflected in his performance as a soldier determined to do his job well. His professionalism gained him the utmost respect of his peers and superiors. 

Thomas was passionate about life and exuded an adventurous spirit. He was an avid participant in anything having to do with the outdoors, including hiking and snowboarding, and he shared this love as a scout and cub leader. His enthusiasm and caring nature were infectious.

At a memorial for Thomas in 2005, a marker was placed and a tree planted on the grounds of Regimental Headquarters, The Royal Canadian Regiment, Wolseley Barracks in London, Ontario.  A living tree in his memory was also purchased by friends of Thomas’ mother and stands on the family’s property in Winnipeg.

Past recipients

Every year, Legion Provincial Commands and individuals forward nominations for the selection of a National Silver Cross Mother. These nominations are reviewed by a selection committee at Dominion Command and one mother is chosen for the year which begins on 01 November until 31 October of the following year.

Past recipients