by Lorraine Payette, written June 8, 2013
(GANANOQUE, ONTARIO) About 55 veterans of WWII and the Korean conflict were honoured along with their families as the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 92 in Gananoque treated them to dinner at the Carveth Care Centre on June 6.
“The Poppy Fund itself is what sponsors these dinners, and we have been doing so for quite some time now,” said Murray Salter, chairman of the Poppy Campaign at Branch 92. “This year we decided to have it on a special day – the 69th anniversary of D-Day.”
Among the guests at this year’s dinner were Don and Jack Harding, brothers who both served in the Navy during WWII. Don was a naval Lieutenant and the captain of HMCS Melville, while brother Jack also served on one at the Normandy invasion. Bill Nuttall was there. He had enlisted in May, 1941, and served in an anti-tank regiment from just after the landings in Normandy and through Belgium and the Netherlands to Germany. Tom Tindall, who enlisted in May, 1944, at age 18 and served as a private in the Algonquin Regiment, brought his sparkling wit and easy sense of humour to the occasion. Everywhere you went, there was a person in uniform, sitting quietly, enjoying dinner, remembering everything, yet never grandstanding, never speaking of being wronged or having suffered or tolerated any indignities of any kind.
These were men and women who had gone out, done their jobs, and come home. And to them and all who served with them we are eternally grateful.
In addition to the dinner, announcements were made op upcoming awards for various members.
“These dinners are meant to honour our veterans,” said Bill Beswertherick of Branch 92. “From our Legion, we restrict it to veterans of the second world war and the Korean war. And in the very near future we have more people who will be hitting the age of 100. Jack Harding will be 100 in two and a half years, and Bill Nuttall is 96 now.
“Several of our members are also getting special honours. Ken Stewart is getting the Governor General’s Caring Citizen Award. Bill Nuttall, second world war veteran, is going to be receiving the Minister of Veterans’ Affairs Commendation mainly for his work promoting Remembrance at the schools. He went to the local schools for fifteen years in a row talking to the students, and they have now videotaped him since he can’t go out to do it any more, and they show the videotapes. Connie Budd, who served in Bomber Command, will receive their new medal.”
Stewart was with the OPP for 25 years and joined the Legion in 2000. He spent six years on the committee that named the Legion’s Honouree of the Year, ensuring that those who do great works in the Gananoque community receive recognition for their achievements. He has worked on both the Shore Breakfast and the Gananoque Music Festival. He is perhaps best known for his work with the Gananoque Loan Cupboard, where he has collected more than $250 thousand worth of medical equipment and supplies which are made available at no cost to local citizens in need. In his spare time, he donates his time as a driver for the Services to Assist Independent Living bus.
In addition to his previously mentioned works, Bill Nuttall also plans to donate much of his collection of memorabilia and items acquired during World War II to either the Canadian War Museum or to the Artillery Museum in Shilo, Manitoba.
Yet with so much to remember, the talk around the tables wasn’t sad. No reminiscences about hard times, no sorrow. Many of them were glad to spend time again with those with whom they had shared so much. They chatted about current events, family accomplishments and their hopes for the future.
But in their eyes is a different look, a look brought on by all they’ve seen. All that they’ve protected us from seeing. This look is recognized by their peers, by those who’ve seen and can never forget. So many of them went out and protected us, so many young and vital people risked it all that we might be who and what we are today, yet so few remain after all this time. They smile, they joke, they chat with all who will listen. And most of all, they remember.
Every year, fewer and fewer remain, but the Legion will continue to honour them. For them, every day is Remembrance Day.