This November, as the people of Blenheim line the streets for the Remembrance Day parade, they will only need to look up to see the faces of the people who served, some making the ultimate sacrifice.
Banners recognizing two Second World War veterans, Glen Leroy Embury and Edward Stanley Miller, were unveiled on Sunday at the Branch 185 Blenheim Legion at a ceremony organized by the Honour Their Sacrifice Committee. In attendance with their family members, Embury and Miller unveiled the new banners at the ceremony.
The veterans are two of 31 First and Second World War military personnel whose service and sacrifice will be honoured with banners over the next two years on light standards in Blenheim.
Committee chair Doug Johnston spoke to the large crowd of Legion members, family, sponsors and Air Cadet Squadron 291 members, explaining how the idea for the project came from his hometown of Harriston, Ont., a small town that decided to honour its veterans with banners two years ago.
“I brought the idea back and pitched it to the Legion here in Blenheim,” Johnston said. “They backed us all the way. We’ve been very fortunate; we’ve had co-operation from every association, service club, and the Municipality of Chatham-Kent.”
He said the members of the committee have put in a great deal of work over the past eight months, along with the staff of the Blenheim News Tribune. Johnston said he is hopeful that other municipalities will look at this project and do the same, so across Canada, veterans will be seen and remembered.
Plans are in the works right now to expand the project to Erieau, a town Johnston said has a significant history.
“Erieau had the highest rate of volunteers in all of Canada during World War Two; 70 people in that small community volunteered,” Johnston explained.
Thanks to the families of veterans, and sponsors such as the Ridge Landfill Community Trust and Entegrus, plus the support of the Blenheim BIA and Lindsay Tree Service who placed the banners, the whole project has been a labour of love for the committee and the community.
“People are proud to talk about their parents and grandparents. On Remembrance Day, they have a connection with the family that sponsored the flag,” Johnston added. “It gives the whole thing more meaning.”
A retired high school principal, Johnston said he hopes to get school children out the classroom and out to see the banners and do some research on the veterans who are named.