Banners bearing photographs of 34 veterans of Canada’s wars and peacekeeping missions will hang in places of honour in downtown Amherst in the weeks leading up to and following Remembrance Day.
“I didn’t think I’d get this emotional,” Mayor David Kogon, said upon seeing a banner bearing a photo of his late father, Flight Lieutenant Maxwell Kogon, a bomber pilot during the Second World War who was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
Viewing it, the mayor admitted, brought a lump to his throat.
“It’s important that we remember the veterans of all our country’s wars and peacekeeping missions, both those that paid the ultimate sacrifice and those who returned home,” Kogon said. “It is because of them that we continue to live in a free, democratic and prosperous country.”
It was equally emotional for Roy Porter, the president of Branch 10 Royal Canadian Legion Amherst.
“This means everything to me. My dad, as did all veterans, fought for all of us,” he said as he looked at a banner that pays tribute to his father, Sgt. Gordon Porter, a member of the North Nova Scotia Highlanders between 1941 and 1946.
“These 34 banners are a way for us to remember them as we promised we would. It’s my hope that we will never forget the sacrifices our veterans made for all of us.”
The idea for the Remembrance Banner Project first circulated two years ago after local veterans saw a similar project in the Village of River Hebert. Shortly thereafter, legion members approached the Town of Amherst to see if the town would be willing to place the banners on the light poles that decorate the downtown.
“We immediately thought this was a great way to honour our veterans,” Amherst Recreation Director Bill Schurman, who worked with the legion on the project.
Legion members sold sponsorships to local residents who wanted to honour a veteran in order to cover the costs of producing the banners. Most were purchased by local families who wished to pay tribute to a family member who was a veteran. As a result, all 34 banners pay tribute to a veteran who has a link with the town.
The banners, which include a photo of a veteran, the veteran’s name and branch of service, the words Lest We Forget and Honouring Our Veterans and the town crest on a red background were designed jointly by a committee consisting of legion members and town staff. They were printed by Acadian Printing.
Town crews will begin erecting the banners on Oct. 15. The plan is to keep them up until the end of November.
While it is too late to add more banners this year, the legion is hopeful more sponsors will come forward so more veterans can be added in the future to the 34 who are being honoured this year.