“It doesn’t matter how much time goes by, you never forget.” Those are the words of Parkwood Institute veteran Jack Martin. A sentiment shared by his comrades as they reflected at a meaningful and touching event to commemorate and honour the soldiers who fought in the battle of Vimy Ridge 100 years ago.
Around the room poppies decorated the walls and the chests of guests. Stories of the war were demonstrated and shared by the Upper Thames Military Re-enactment Society Tableau Program which featured actors in WWI attire who held poses to reflect moments in the war.
The agenda also featured a special gift donation from Canadian blacksmiths Jeff Werkmeister and Scott McKay. In 2016, the two men handcrafted wreath pieces and sent them to Belgium to contribute to a large wreath laid at the cenotaph. This extraordinary artwork was constructed by putting together pieces contributed by people across the globe to honour those who fought in the battle. Jeff and Scott wanted to do something similar at a local level and worked together to present a full metal wreath to the Parkwood Institute veterans.
After the gift was presented the veterans were provided with poppy seeds to empty in a poppy-styled bowl. These seeds will be added to the poppy garden on Parkwood Institute’s grounds
Dressed in full uniform including his French Legion of Honour medal, Jack, who visited and laid a wreath at the Vimy Ridge 75th anniversary said he was, “amazed at the names all around the base of the monument – thousands of names most without a grave.”
Jack is touched by events like this. He believes these events are necessary for the children to hear and understand the history of what took place. “I saw too many men and buddies killed during the war.”