The Chronicle Herald (Provincial)
Veterans, families appreciative of recognition
As Korean War veteran Nelson Deveau received a special presentation from Korean-born Yarmouth resident Sonia Parklawrence, he couldn’t resist the opportunity to say something to her in Korean.
First it made her smile. Then it made her laugh. Asked afterwards what he had said, Deveau said, “I told her, ‘It rains a lot.’”
Deveau and other Korean War veterans and family members of veterans were thankful and appreciative of a special ceremony held at the Wedgeport Legion Branch 155 on July 24.
The event not only marked the anniversary of the July 27, 1953 armistice of the Korean War, but special presentations of South Korean Ambassador for Peace Medals and towels in decorative packaging from the Republic of Korea Embassy were made to veterans, and also to families of deceased veterans, in appreciation of their contribution to the war effort.
In total, 27 area Korean War veterans were recognized.
Park-lawrence read a letter from Chang Keung Ryong, ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Canada.
“We pay homage to the more than 26,000 Canadians who ... fought on land, at sea and in the air in a coordinated effort to push the North Korean forces aided by China back over the 38th parallel,” the letter stated. “Through sheer courage, determination and resilience, these brave souls safeguarded Korea from communist invasion. Sadly, 516 Canadians lost their lives and countless others were wounded.”
To the five Korean War veterans that were in attendance at the ceremony, the ambassador extended warm wishes for good health and longevity. “It is my sincere hope that one day you may see the true fruition of your noble and selfless sacrifice,” the letter read, referring to a peacefully unified Korea.
The five veterans present were Leslie Muise, Bob Garron, Nelson Deveau, Kenneth Jeffery and Glendon Gavel.
It was meaningful for Parklawrence to read the letter, which she first did in English. When she read passages in Korean, she was overcome with emotion.
She was just a little girl when she left Korea and wasn’t alive during the war — but she’s read books, seen movies and heard stories about it. To be asked to participate in a ceremony honouring Korean War veterans meant a lot to her.
She grew up in Montreal and moved to Yarmouth about eight years ago where she and her husband Troy own and operate Honey Bee Deli and Ice Cream in Dayton. Her parents live in Korea, she said.
She called it an honour to meet veterans who fought in the war.
During the past few years, the Legion Branch 155 in Wedgeport has been commemorating significant events related to the two world wars, other conflicts and the area’s military men and women. The Legion reached out to local Korean War veterans and families to make them aware of the peace medals.
During the July 24 event the efforts of Legion member Cyrille Leblanc were acknowledged.
“The presentations are a result of his hard work,” said the ceremony’s emcee Andre Boudreau, who said Leblanc was in contact with the Korean
Embassy so much that he is now on a first-name basis with many of the staff.
Accepting the presentation of medals and/or towels on behalf of deceased veterans — and present for the event — were wives, sons, daughters, siblings, nephews, nieces and other family members.
Asked what it was like during the war, veteran Bob Garron couldn’t put it into words, saying it was too emotional. But he couldn’t stop talking about how appreciative he is for the ongoing efforts of the Wedgeport Legion to honour veterans and their families.
“Every time they take on something like this, I’m impressed,” he said.
Nelson Deveau was 18 when he went overseas to serve in the conflict. His family was not immune to war. His older brother
Albert had served in the Second World War from 1939 to 1945. When the Korean War broke out in 1950, both brothers went overseas. They both came home but his brother eventually died in his 40s from a heart attack.
Unlike the dockside celebrations that occur nowadays when military personnel come home from deployments, there was no official welcome when they came back says Deveau, who grew up in Weymouth.
“When we came back home there was nothing to greet us,” he said. “That’s the way it happened at that time.”
Now 87, he was eager to share a story with Park-lawrence from the war that has stayed with him throughout the decades. He told her of the time he was on ambulance duty and they had come across some children that were injured after they had handled an unexploded grenade that did explore as they shook it. The oldest of the injured was 11. The youngest was four.
“They never cried,” he said. “I never forgot that.”
Park-lawrence held her hand over her heart as they spoke.
Then they exchanged some more words in Korean, with Park-lawrence asking, in Korean, if Deveau remembered these phrases — “How are you?” and, most appropriately, “Thank you very much.”