“Why not a week or a national month of remembrance? »
That’s a question Bob Neubauer, Sergeant-at-Arms of the Royal Canadian Legion in New Hamburg, recently asked himself.
If you’ve been walking around downtown New Hamburg lately, you may have seen banners honoring the military. This is how the Legion chooses to celebrate veterans on Remembrance Day.
Neubauer was inspired by the story of his neighbor’s son, Donnie Zehr, who was in the Royal Canadian Air Force before his death. With Marie Voisin, Neubauer gradually concretized the concept of the banners.
“I made a number of phone calls with other ex-servicemen like me who were involved in banner programs in other cities,” he said.
There are currently 74 banners installed, more than the 35 Neubauer envisioned when he started out.
Irvine Krampien is one of the military veterans represented by a banner on the utility poles in New Hamburg.
Her youngest child, Jen Krampien, said her family was touched by the idea. “For Dad to have a banner hung in New Hamburg, honoring his service, really means a lot. All the banners mean a lot to all of us for our freedom.
His father fought during the liberation of the Netherlands.
The Liberation of the Netherlands took place from 1944 to 1945, when the First Canadian Army helped liberate the Dutch, who had suffered starvation and hardship under the German occupiers. More than 7,600 Canadian soldiers, sailors and airmen died in action in the Netherlands.
Like many other veterans, he didn’t talk about it when he returned from the war. “Obviously it was awful and they saw some awful things,” Jen said. “The only thing he was very proud of was that his troop, his unit, was part of the Dutch Liberation,” she added.
Although Irvine died in 1992, his children remember him as a caring and loving man. “He was always helping others, whether it was (it was) his children, his grandchildren or his neighbours. He didn’t think it was doing anyone a favor, but a way of living his life,” Jen said.
Jen said seeing the banners should remind people to never take their freedom for granted, and added, “Isn’t downtown beautiful with everyone?”
Neubauer said the fact that other important events and causes have longer periods of celebration, but there is only one day for Remembrance Day, doesn’t “seem fair.”
“We get two minutes a year on November 11 to honor veterans living and fallen.”
With the banners, people have “something proud up there for a month to watch,” Neubauer added.
He said the Legion received help from Kitchener-Wilmot Hydro to mount them on the utility poles and the banners would be taken down in late November or early December.
The legion also undertakes its traditional poppy campaign, as well as a ceremony on 11 November.
“You will see many of our Legion representatives in your local stores giving away or selling poppies from the poppy boxes,” said Scott Dunstall, Legion Public Relations Officer.
Dunstall said he was proud of the work Neubauer and Voisin did to make this happen.
Voisin had to do a lot of digital editing to make the old images usable, while Neubauer went through all the paperwork, submissions and applications.
“Having the banners has not only helped renew interest in the Legion, and it’s very timely at this time of year in particular, but I think it’s also created heart for the community. said Dunstall.
STORY BEHIND THE STORY: When the New Hamburg Independent learned that the Legion was raising banners to honor veterans, we wanted to know what the idea behind it was.