We remember them
Military plaque distinguishes forgotten vets
By Gilbert Beaulieu
Remembrance Week and Remembrance Day are the official annual events honouring the sacrifice of over 162,000 Canadian soldiers since WWI.
But what about the hundreds of thousands of their comrades who fought with them, maybe were wounded if not maimed and survived them by a certain number of years? And those who served in peace time in the militia or regular forces or in peace missions?
At death, most of them were buried in their family plot, some of them, without family survivors, buried under the care of Veterans Affairs and benefiting from a small standard military headstone. The greatest majority of the deceased veterans are not identified as such on their family gravestone.
The members of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch N° 38 in Farnham, Quebec, took notice of this fact while checking their records when an inventory of burials in the R.C. Cemetery was being uploaded on the internet.
This acknowledgement brought about the launching of a project to identify the veterans’ gravestones so descendants and the general public would at least know that the person is identified as someone who has served in a conflict or peace keeping mission that Canada has been involved with.
The We Remember project aims to cover the seven various denomination cemeteries of the area. Family survivors or descendants are invited to buy the in memoriam auto-adhesive plaque and install it on the veteran’s gravestone. For Veterans without any family left (verified first with the cemetery’s authorities), gravestones will be identified in sequence according to donations coming in, starting with the WWI veterans.
The project is being well received by everyone who knows about it and other Legion branches across the country have inquired about the project, as they want to emulate it in their area. Present members of the Forces applaud the program when they hear about it.
Since the launch of the campaign together with the 2010 Poppy campaign, people have bought plaques for their own veteran, others bought plaques for veteran relatives buried in some other area and even in Ontario and New Brunswick, and donations have started to come in.
This is a very easy and affordable way to recognize the veterans’ presence in a community through its cemeteries. And this remembrance lasts all year round and over the years while being visible to every cemetery visitor.
The 3.5 in. sq. In memoriam plaques in baked enamel on aluminum can be obtained from any Legion branch (Item # 300406).