They were young men when they went to war and they never returned home.
They are commemorated on the cenotaph at the Royal Canadian Legion branch 232, the site of an annual ceremony each Remembrance Day, but this year the Downtown Huntsville BIA wanted to bring additional awareness and humanity to those who have served our country, particularly since veterans march down Main Street in their annual parade.
“We thought of doing it because Girlfriends’ Getaway is on the same day as Remembrance Day, which is a little bit beyond our control, but we knew that there were going to be lots of women downtown and we thought ‘how can we still be respectful of Remembrance Day and the fact that there will be veterans walking down the street that day for the parade?'” said Helena Renwick, the BIA’s executive director.
The solution: fourteen banners bearing the images of young soldiers who died in World War II. They will be interchanged with the Canadian flags on Main Street’s light standards.
All of the young men were graduates of Huntsville High School who subsequently went off to war – their ages at when they died ranged from 20 to 22. Their photos were provided by Muskoka Heritage Place.
“I have been speaking to some of the family members (of the soldiers) and they think it is so wonderful,” said Renwick. “It’s a small thing we can do. We have the names on the cenotaph but if you put a face to those names, it speaks volumes.” Renwick said that the project may be extended in future years.
The banners are personally meaningful for Renwick, too. “My mom lived (in Holland) in the war, and Canadian soldiers liberated Holland. The Dutch have never forgotten that. When you see the faces of these young soldiers, some of whom are actually buried in Belgium or France or Italy, it makes it a little more real.”
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