At the Commonwealth cemeteries in Europe, there is a book that you can look at to find the resident of the cemetery. Child did this, looking for a MacDonald. It didn’t matter if it was one of our MacDonalds or not, he decided that as he was armed with flag pins, his part would be to place them on the graves of his clansmen. A friend of his wanted to place his flag pins at a grave sites of members of the predecessors of the regiment to which our cadet corps is associated: The Highland Light Infantry of Canada (now the Royal Highland Fusiliers of Canada). Another wanted to put his pins at every one of the Commonwealth nations. The illusive one was New Zealand, but we eventually found a grave for him to place his pin.
At the end of September, one of my contacts sent me the paperwork for a project that the Royal Canadian Legion Dominion Command was trying to get help running across the country. The overall project was called Bells of Peace, and the purpose is to remember those who served in the WW1. It’s been almost a decade since the last surviving WW1 vet died. They have truly and completely passed the torch.
So what the Legion is asking is for people to find veteran’s of WW1’s graves, so that we can put a flag on them in particular remembrance for their service. I looked at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and found more than 30 across several cemeteries in our area. I’m sure there are more, just not registered with the commission. In Europe, it was easy, they were distinguished by the white marble headstones. Here, often they are hidden amongst the gray and pink and black marble of civilian headstones.
We’ve offered these local grave site visits to the cadets in our ranks, as part of their Remembrance opportunities. They’ll be able to go with pins and flags of their own. For some of them, it might be the first time they’ve been in a cemetery. I like to wander in cemeteries, especially at this time of year, so I’m likely to do the ones that are not claimed by cadets and their families.
There are other parts of the Bells of Peace project going on across Canada in addition to the grave site visits. If you feel so inclined, I encourage you to participate in this endeavour too, by visiting graves, or attending a bell ringing ceremony.
May we continue to find more ways to honour those who came before us. From failing hands they’ve passed the torch, may we receive it with humility.