The plan began with completion of a project that the branch padre, Rev. Robert Merritt, began last year with the help of Denise Beaton. They set out to find the names of Clarence-Rockland “lost veterans” of the First World War.
“I realized (last year) that the names of our Great War veterans were not on the cenotaph,” said Rev. Merritt.
While it was certain that young men from the Clarence-Rockland area went off to Europe to fight in trenches during World War I, there were no records either at city hall or the Rockland Museum of anyone who fought and died overseas. The Department of National Defence did have records of every soldier, sailor, and pilot who served during every war Canada was involved in during the last century. But sifting through those records took some time.
When they found the names of the five local men who died in France, Beaton was surprised to learn that one of them was a member of her family. Private Douglas Archibald Beaton was the first man from the Clarence-Rockland area to die during the War to End All Wars, when he died in combat in France September 17, 1916.
The names of Pvt. Beaton and of Corporal Robert Duncan, Lance-Sargent Hervé Joseph Chénier, Private James Wilfred Campbell, and Private Victor Clément are now a permanent part of the Rockland Cenotaph, inscribed courtesy of Brunet Funeral Home. In future years, the Legion will ensure that the names of any other local veterans who die in service to their country are inscribed on the Cenotaph.
Inscriptions on the Cenotaph are not the sole means the Legion has now to honour Clarence-Rockland’s deceased veterans of past battles. This year marks the first appearance of commemorative banners hung up along Laurier Street, and paid for through a partnership between the Legion and the City of Clarence-Rockland.
The banners, French on one side and English on the other, each bear the name of one of Clarence-Rockland 14 war dead along with an icon symbolic of either the First or Second World War.
“We wanted these names to be more prominent to people than just on the Cenotaph,” said Rev. Merritt.
This year there will be no official parade or ceremony at the Cenotaph out of respect for the pandemic protection guidelines against large gatherings. But the Legion will hold a small ceremony at the Cenotaph on November 11 with livestreaming of the event available on the Legion’s Facebook page for residents to watch at home. The Legion will also have TVC22 film the event for later broadcast on the community television channel.
Anyone who wishes to place their own wreath or just a Legion poppy on the cenotaph may do so, but they are urged to practise social distancing and wear a mask if necessary. This year’s Legion Poppy Campaign in Clarence-Rockland is downsized compared to previous years.
Boxes of Legion poppies are at WalMart, Giant Tiger, Independent Grocer, and Food Basic, but no other outlets. People are asked to follow the “honour system” and drop a donation into the box when they take their poppy. All money raised from the Poppy Campaign helps supports local veterans and their families when they have need.
The Rockland Legion has also launched a new fundraiser project to help support local veterans and aid residents who want to honour Clarence-Rockland’s veterans. Special lawn signs are now available on order from the Legion. Phone 613-298-8215 for details on how to purchase one.