Lest we forget
By Bruce Corcoran
Staff at McKinlay Funeral Home understand it’s not feasible to have large-scale Remembrance Day celebrations at the cenotaphs across Chatham-Kent this year due to COVID-19.
But it doesn’t mean they didn’t do anything about it.
Working with local Royal Canadian Legion personnel, funeral directors Nathan McKinlay, Jacob Rowe and Jeff Mardling created a video intended to link people of all ages to Remembrance Day.
“For a funeral service, I’d say that Remembrance Day is probably the most important day of the year, because we’re acknowledging the fallen. We’re remembering. Part of our duty is to carry on the memories,” McKinlay said. “Without a Remembrance Day service, that makes it really tough for people to get the perspective they need, especially now, because people are so divided on everything. They’re at home on social media and they aren’t coming together like they used to and they aren’t coming together for these common causes.”
Several invite-only events are slated to take place, including at the Bradley Centre in Chatham, but nothing larger scale as a precaution due to COVID-19.
“It’s on us to make sure people do remember. For the younger generations, they need to see what’s going on here,” McKinlay said, pointing to the Second World War. “It’s the 75th anniversary of the end of the war and we can’t have a celebration.”
Rowe said as soon as they learned from the Legions there wouldn’t be typical Remembrance Day services this year, they put their heads together.
“We wanted to try to create, not a replacement that takes away from the austerity of the typical service that will still take place for invitees, but something that speaks to everyone in Chatham-Kent,” he said. “We’ll feature all of the cenotaphs from all of the different communities. We’ll have a testimony from a veteran and a Legion member, and from someone who joined the Legion from more of a community perspective. They talk about the supportive side of it for the veterans.”
Rowe said Len Maynard, zone commander for the area for the Legion, and also a member of Branch 642 in Chatham, is the veteran in the video who shared his memories.
McKinlay is proud of the result.
“We started filming it and, honestly, it got pretty emotional rather quickly. When some of the speakers talked, it was a pretty powerful message,” he said. “We’ve put together a pre-recorded Remembrance Day tribute. It’s kind of a nod to the Legion. I think it will help for the younger generations to understand what happened. It’s a way for all of Chatham-Kent to come together. Remembering together while we’re apart.”
Rowe said just because the video was filmed in Chatham-Kent and featured all our cenotaphs does not mean the video can’t have impact outside our borders.
“I think when you see the final compilation, it’s pretty universal. They don’t mention Chatham-Kent by name,” he said. “People watching the footage, I think, will see it will speak to the Legion and the cenotaph in their home towns.”
McKinlay said the video will be available online starting Nov. 4 on remembrancedayck.com. The early release is to allow people to have the chance to view the video at their leisure and to share it with family.
“That way, people in Chatham-Kent have a way by which to celebrate Remembrance Day, show it to their kids, and take some time to reflect,” he explained. “The next generation has to pass the torch on.”