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We Remember!

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--May 11, 2011.

larger_auto-collant001.jpgRemembrance Week and its Remembrance Day are the official annual events honouring the sacrifice of over 162, 000 Canadian soldiers since WWI. But what about the rest of the year? What about the hundreds of thousands of their comrades who fought with them, many of whom were wounded if not maimed and who survived them by a certain number of years? And those who served in peacetime in the militia or regular forces or in peace missions?

At death, most of these soldiers were buried in their family plots. Some of them, who were without family survivors, were buried under the care of Veterans Affairs and benefited from a small standard military headstone. The greatest majority of our deceased veterans, however, were not identified as such on their family gravestone.

The members of Royal Canadian Legion Branch N° 38 in Farnham, Quebec, noticed this fact while checking their records as an inventory of burials in the Roman Catholic Cemetery was being uploaded onto the internet.

A project was then launched to identify the veterans’ gravestones so descendants and the general public would at least know that the person so identified was a veteran.

The project aims to cover the cemeteries of seven denominations in the area. Family survivors or descendants are invited to buy an in memoriam auto-adhesive plaque and install it on the veteran’s family gravestone. For veterans without any surviving family (as verified first with the cemetery’s authorities), gravestones will be identified in sequence according to donations coming in, starting with WWI veterans.

This project has received wide acceptance from everyone learning about it. Other Legion branches have also inquired about the project so that they can emulate it in their own areas. Present members of the armed forces have applauded it.

Since the launch of the campaign, together with the 2010 Poppy campaign, people have bought plaques for their own family members. Others have bought plaques for veterans who are related to them and who are buried in some other areas and even in Ontario and New Brunswick. Donations have started to come in.

This is a very easy and affordable way to recognize 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. Wouldn't it be wonderful to see this project spread throughout Canada?

3½ in. sq. in memoriam plaques in baked enamel on aluminum may be obtained from any Legion branch (Item # 300406).