New­found­lan­ders ap­pre­ci­ated for wartime role

The Compass - - OR­THTE -

Le­gion mem­bers, politi­cians, school chil­dren, and then mem­bers of the pub­lic can lay a wreath. A class of chil­dren from Eng­land placed one while we were in at­ten­dance. I was hon­oured and touched to see our Le­gion mem­bers Ross Pet­ten, the broth­ers Philip and Fred Wood, and ac­com­pa­nied by Eric Jer­rett, CM. place a wreath dur­ing that very spe­cial ser­vice. It was an un­for­get­table mo­ment.

Juno Beach, France — a sec­tion of the beach, Bernières-sur-Mer, is where Cana­di­ans lib­er­ated the first house in Nor­mandy. The Queen’s Own Ri­fles unit is cred­ited with the suc­cess of the lib­er­a­tion. Over­all, on June 6, 359 Cana­di­ans died, 1,074 were wounded and 47 taken pris­oner. It was here in front of the house at Bernières-sur-Mer that trib­ute was paid to the Queen’s Own Ri­fles, and also to those lost at sea.

The trib­ute con­sisted of a very touch­ing evening cer­e­mony called “Pass­ing the Torch.” Led by town of­fi­cials with par­tic­i­pa­tion from the school’s youth, the event stirred the hearts of hun­dreds of vis­i­tors. Even though we stood in pour­ing rain, we were obliv­i­ous to the damp­ness, and the show­ers did not af­fect the en­thu­si­asm of the stu­dents. They re­cited from po­ems they had com­posed, read pas­sages from the es­says they had writ­ten, and sang songs that paid homage to the fallen and gave thanks to their coun­try’s lib­er­a­tors.

Fol­low­ing the for­mal part of the cer­e­mony, the school chil­dren car­ry­ing lanterns formed a pro­ces­sion that led down to the sea­side. At wa­ter’s edge they placed in the sand small white crosses that they had made them­selves. In­tently, they were ac­cept­ing the torch of faith from the long-gone fallen sol­diers.

Next it was our turn to take part in the cer­e­mony. Each per­son was given a sin­gle flower to cast into the ocean. I, co­in­ci­den­tally, was given a car­na­tion with three stems. The lady pass­ing it to me said, “Oh, that’s OK, you are spe­cial.” As I headed down to the wa­ter, tears filled my eyes for I knew why I had been given the three-stemmed car­na­tion.

All dur­ing the cer­e­mony I had been think­ing about the mem­bers of the navy and marines from Bay Roberts who, dur­ing the war, had been lost at sea. As I stood by the sea­side, the three names I had been re­mem­ber­ing that evening flashed be­fore me. I sep­a­rated the stem into its three parts, then threw each part into the wa­ter cit­ing the names: Sud, Don and Bill. Suther­land Snow, Don­ald Snow, and Wil­liam Baggs had been child­hood friends and neigh­bours and then had been united again in death dur­ing the Se­cond World War in an ocean far from home.

In re­flec­tion, as I gazed over the vast ex­panse of sea in the pour­ing rain, I be­came more aware of the dan­gers that all these pa­tri­otic men from other lands faced in the name of free­dom. As I was leav­ing that very solemn spot, I knew that I would never be the same. I cher­ish and value this gift of life and this won­der­ful place. I made a pledge that I will “RE­MEM­BER the sac­ri­fices made by men and women in a far­away land, sac­ri­fices made in the cause of peace.”

Let us not for­get. Betty Jer­rett writes from

Bay Roberts

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