Their stories are harrowing, humbling, and must never be forgotten.
That’s why the Trail Legion has always been the gatekeeper of war time accounts from Kootenay men and women who answered the call of duty.
Lest we forget.
Books, bound in leather, or pages simply typed and filed in folders, forever memorialize the real-life experiences of so many veterans from the Trail area, most of whom are now gone.
“It’s important for people to be able to look at these books and see what has happened,” says Gilbert Morrison, president of the Trail Legion. “And hopefully, it will never happen again.”
There’s also row upon row of albums that line the back of the East Trail lounge, wherein old Trail Times stories are affixed next to photos of veterans, some dating back 75 years or longer.
A community’s history is preserved in these homemade archives that hold nostalgic black and white images of Greater Trail veterans in wartime as well as pictures of soldiers back home in baby boomer years, enjoying — and hosting — so many community events like Robbie Burns Day, or cooking for hungry parade-wavers in Silver City Days.
Bill McGuire, a Palm Leaf recipient and past West Kootenay zone commander, agreed with Morrison’s view, stressing how important it is that Legion history, stories and photos, be shared with young minds in perpetuity.
“My father was a veteran of the First World War. I have his history and all he went through. It’s important to me,” he said. “Respect — that’s why I am here. And we must make sure that children remember what happened.
“The more children in this country are exposed, the better off we all are, because they are our future.”
Dave Hogg, a Legion member whose family was part of wartime efforts in the East Kootenay, often reflects on the stories and photos that line the walls and book shelves in the East Trail hall.
“There is so much treasure in here,” said Hogg, a former leader in the Air Cadets. “Last year we had a couple of high school classes come down and we had displays set up for them to look through. It went over so well, we are doing it again this year.”
The Remembrance Day ceremony is set for the Trail Cenotaph on Monday, Nov. 11.
The service begins with a parade from the FortisBC building at 10:30 a.m. Reverend Meridyth Robertson and Ministries Leader Jessica Hoeft from the Trail Salvation Army Church will lead the prayer and address, and Master Warrant Officer Shane Batch will read the Honour Roll.
In the Beaver Valley, Remembrance Day ceremonies will begin at the Fruitvale Cenotaph at 10:45 a.m. sharp, with Pastor Ken Siemens officiating. Immediately following the service, all are invited to the Fruitvale Memorial Hall for hot dogs, hot chocolate, coffee, pastries and girl guides cookies.