Emotional Remembrance Day ahead in Chatham

The chairman of the Chatham Regiment is excited that Memorial Day services are back to normal and open to the public this year, but he is also disturbed by the destruction of the monument in downtown Chatham.

Len Maynard told CK News Today that the monument in downtown Chatham had been damaged by paint, adding that the municipality had done an excellent job and crews were cleaning up for Friday’s service.

“They poured paint on the flagpole and it’s been going on, and it’s very disturbing. I don’t want the veterans going up and seeing that. The city staff are all jumping up,” Maynard said.

The Essex and Kent Scottish Regiment monuments at Tecumseh Park were also damaged, Maynard said.

Maynard said he expects the usual large crowds to return this year after pandemic restrictions kept the service smaller and only the last two invites on Nov. 11.

“It’s traditional, but this is the first post-pandemic era where we’ve been able to go all in. We’ve had the public come in this year and they’ve walked up and down William and King loudly and proud of the public seeing, as A veteran and branch president, it’s such a joy to have this happen again,” he said.

The Chatham Remembrance Day Parade will be held outside the Regiment on William Street at 10.30am on Friday, and will begin at 11am to the monument for public remembrance

Then, another public service at the Bradley Center in Chatham at 2 p.m.

Maynard is also involved in a 10-year strategic plan for Canada to commemorate the future by 2030, developed by Veterans Affairs Canada. The plan includes more education for youth Maynard agrees that’s the way to go, though he says the number of veterans able to visit schools is dwindling because of the pandemic and veterans’ ageing.

“If we can do that, keep our traditions, because you don’t want to lose those, then that’s the way forward. The way forward is definitely education, education, education. Get guest speakers out, get people into branches and veterans Military people talk to find out, when they see veterans stop and ask them about it,” Maynard said.

He noted that local veterans can visit the school year-round to talk with students about Remembrance Day.

The Department of Veterans Affairs’ program is to “develop” how Canadians know and appreciate the Canadians who serve our country at home and abroad. It is designed to invite Canadians to understand and appreciate the contributions and sacrifices made by those in uniform, and to ensure that all veterans and their families feel recognized.

A VA consultation conducted in summer 2021 also revealed that a significant number of respondents believe that if Remembrance Day were an official holiday in all provinces, it would allow more Canadians to take the time to commemorate. Some respondents also expressed a desire to have a one-month remembrance day, or a separate holiday for those who served and those who gave their lives, similar to what is done on Memorial Day and Veterans Day in the United States.

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