On the occasion of Remembrance Day 2014, I am happy to offer a ‘composite article’ on how we Canadians remember our War Veterans. The members of our Canadian Armed Forces who have given the ultimate sacrifice to protect the peace and unity we enjoy in this country, as well as those who have returned from the war front, some of them physically and emotionally wounded.
Lest we forget those soldiers who have selflessly contributed to our efforts in peacekeeping and espousing the righteous cause of a foreign country.
Veteran Voices Of Canada: A Canadian broadcaster and talented videographer, Allan Cameron, has created an audio-video montage of recordings of Air, Land and Sea Canadian veterans who shared their personal memories and war stories. Government grants and private donations have supported the interviews of 700 veterans and so far fifteen of them can be viewed on the non-profit http://vetvoicecan.org/ website. Al Cameron has invested tireless energy into this emotional project that candidly honours the survival and memories of those veterans. Mr. Cameron’s very first interview for this project was with Mr. Alex Bietz of Calmar. Plans are in the making to add more of these interviews to the website.
Flags Of Remembrance: On the morning of October 29th, along Highway 11 outside of Sylvan Lake, drivers witnessed 116 Canadian flags in a straight line, waving proudly in the cool morning breeze. Al Cameron and Veterans Voices of Canada have organized this touching tribute where each flag represents 1,000 Canadian veterans and is sponsored by a family or a business entity. On that fall morning, a large crowd of the soldiers’ families, military and emergency personnel and kindred supporters gathered to launch the Flags exhibit and sang ‘O Canada’ in harmony. The Sylvan Lake business community was supportive of this project. On the morning of Saturday, November 1st, in a ceremony attended by some of the soldiers’ families and regional VIPs, name plaques were attached to the flag poles. These plaques were generously donated by Brennan, a Sylvan Lake entrepreneur and owner of Green Wave Laser (.com). The event is a touching tribute to the Air, Land and Sea veterans of WWI, WWII, the Korean Conflict as well as the Boer and Afghan Wars. The Flags Of Remembrance will remain in place until November 14.
Project Heroes: Well-known in the Capital region and in Canada as an artist with heart and talent, Susan Abma of Leduc County, East of Millet, is the co-founder of an extensive art exhibit of numerous Canadian fallen soldiers of the Afghan War. With two other artists, she created this impressive travelling exhibit which opens on November 3rd at the Prince of Wales Armoury in North-central Edmonton, and continues on until December 31st.
The Farough Family of Leduc has made a place in their home to remember the fathers, aka great-grand-fathers, who fought in two wars. Under domed glass displayed in their living-room, the portraits and medals of these soldiers remind family and visiting friends of the sacrifice and service contributed by the late Roy Farough (WWI) and Mrs. Linda Farough’s dad, Arthur Kettley (WWII), who is a resident of Whitehorse Yukon. The two men’s great-grand-son, Matthew Bartsch, son of Michelle Farough-Bartsch of Leduc, is a fourth-year Air Cadet in the Leduc Black Knights 831 Squadron. Although he dreams of a career in medicine, young Matthew fell in love with the Cadet Program when he was introduced to it by senior Air Cadets at a City of Leduc Community Registration Day. In this family, the two veteran great-grandfather’s war stories are well-remembered with memorabilia on display, ready to be viewed and explained.
Cadet Squadrons: Cadet squadrons across the country are preparing for Remembrance Day, a prominent day in the entire year of training. Shared by Lieutenant Martinez, the Commanding Officer of Leduc’s Black Knights 831 Air Cadet Squadron, “The Air Cadet Program has three aims: to promote citizenship and leadership, to promote physical fitness and to stimulate an interest in the Air element of the Canadian Forces.” Young Air Cadets from 12 to 18 years of age gather once a week during the school year for their Parade nights. An essential element of the Cadets’ Citizenship training is to parade and assist in community events. As most communities in our region will host Remembrance Day events, you can look forward to seeing Air, Navy and Army cadets in uniform escorting the presenters of wreaths and official guests to the Podium, as well as standing guard next to the indoor and outdoor cenotaphs during that day’s ceremonies.
Charlie Fountain: Having served in the Canadian Navy during WWII, Charlie was full of life and didn’t wait to be recruited. Second oldest in a family of seven, he enlisted and served in several countries including Italy and Jamaica. When his ship was torpedoed, he fell into the sea where he remained for several hours until he was rescued by a medical ship. He continued his military career and eventually took his leave. The Canadian government helped him acquire a homestead near Barrhead where he farmed and became a dad and a grandpa. One of his three daughters is Leduc’s own Loy Gross, a tireless community supporter. His only sister is Doreen (Fountain) Douglas of Calgary, a dynamic mother who raised three boys on her own and who now in her 80s, is still active with the skin care business she has owned for forty years. Doreen has vivid memories of herself as a child cycling 4.5 miles to the family’s mail box impatient to collect a letter from her big brother and occasionally sending him a note, always addressed to his name along with his Service ID, M14762, which she obviously remembers to this day. Charlie’s brother Bill Fountain was the Founder of Fountain Tire. The Fountain family stays well united as they have been hosting a large family reunion each July for the past 43 years. Charlie’s memory is alive and well in this tight-knit family.
Through stories shared over the decades, military or war memorabilia some families display or tuck away in a safety box, projects done in schools or on the Internet, there are many ways our Veterans are remembered in this country. Without fail, with emotion and pride, WE SHALL REMEMBER THEM!
Pictured: Flags of Remembrance waive proudly near Sylvan Lake, with organizer Al Cameron. Photo supplied by Rob Hislop Photography