By MPP Bobbi Ann Brady
Last week, I stood twice – once to give a member’s statement and once as a special tribute – in the Ontario Legislature to talk about some of the people, events and projects in Haldimand-Norfolk that aim to do just that – create year-long remembrance of those who served and continue to serve.
Back in September I attended the 95th anniversary of the Major Walter Barnard Branch 125 Legion in Delhi. It was a great evening and heartening to see neighboring Branch 158, Port Dover, out in full support. One of my favourite memories of the evening was listening to an excerpt read from one of Major Barnard’s diaries, where he described how elated he would be to return home for some dancing.
I could not help but think of how apropos it was to be reading such an excerpt in a Legion – a gathering place for camaraderie and things like eating together and dancing. Legions and Army, Navy Air Force Units began as meeting places for those who served but they are largely about serving the community, the country and, of course, daily remembrance.
The Hagersville Chamber of Commerce recently unveiled its Veteran Banner Project. As you travel through the town on Highway 6, you will be reminded of the local young men who served – 94 in total. Banners have also been raised for OPP Constable Greg Percszala and Calgary Police Service Sergeant Andrew Harnett, a native of Hagersville.
Down the road in Jarvis, the banner project, supported by the Board of Trade is in its fifth year.
In September, the Veterans Voices of Canada raised 128 flags to honour the 128,000 Canadian military and RCMP members killed and missing in action from the Boer War to current missions. This past September marked the third year this ceremony was held in Dunnville’s Wingfield Park.
Yet with all the wonderful effort put into remembrance, I often think the further away we move from the Great Wars, the more likely we are to lose sight of the sacrifices men and women have made for each of us. Now more than ever, we need our Legions and Army, Navy, Air Force units to be a gathering place for people, and as a community, we should be doing all we can to join in their efforts to ensure society never forgets. Further, our education curriculum should reinforce the sacrifices of veterans and those who didn’t return.
Canadians must be reminded year-round to honour the bravery of Canadians in all conflicts in which we’ve participated. World Wars I and II are rightfully and deservedly obvious for remembrance to most people, but I think more time should be given to lesser-recalled Canadian-involved conflicts such as Korea, Cyprus, The Balkans, and Afghanistan. Canadian soldiers have served in so many places and so many ways; I sometimes fear their contributions around the world are not given the gratitude they deserve.
We indeed have many problems today, but they are surmountable because of others who paid the ultimate sacrifice. Individuals are imperfect, but the veteran as an ideal is built into our culture and rightfully so. On November 11, a Sunday this year, I urge you to make your way to your local Remembrance Day service to pause and remember those who served and continue to serve our nation in times of war, conflict, and peace.
If you are unable to attend a local service, I respectfully ask you to remember in place wherever you may be.
Lest we forget.
Bobbi Ann Brady is the MPP for Haldimand-Norfolk