Hub Now: Two significant anniversaries highlight in Bass River

By November 3, 2016Remember
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Remembrance Day at Veterans Memorial Park in Bass River this November 11 at 10:45 a.m. will be marked, as always, with the laying of wreaths in honour of those lost in serving Canada, and those still serving, including the Forgotten Heroes, the animals who have their own remarkable monument.

Two special wreaths will be presented as part of the ceremony because this year marks the 100th anniversary of the No. 2 Black Construction Battalion CEF, and also of the tragic battle of Beaumont-Hamel on July 1, 1916.

As the First World War thundered on well past the month or two in which it was supposed to end, many Black Nova Scotians wanted to enlist but were refused. Rev. (Captain) William White of Truro formed a special engineering and forestry unit for black volunteers who provided support of great value.

A wreath honouring this belatedly-recognized achievement will be presented by Pastor Brian O. Johnston, past president of the Black Cultural Society, who has inherited the church where Rev. White once served, Zion United Baptist in Truro.

Johnston, who came to ministry here after 31 years and a Distinguished Service Award with Halifax Regional Police, explains, “It is with pride as an African Nova Scotian man that I recognize and lift up the men of the No.2, who were willing to fight for King and Country even though they weren’t recognized as men.”

Presenting the wreath in memory of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, Dr. Karen Ewing, the Park’s founder, says folks may wonder why we are remembering Newfoundland soldiers here in Nova Scotia.

Her great uncle was injured in that battle while nearly 300 young men died; losses that crippled their homeland for decades.

What’s the connection to Bass River? Dr. Ewing’s visit to Beaumont-Hamel in 1999 and the John Oxenham poem “Tread Softly Here” inspired her to design the Veterans Memorial Park with its entrance through a trench of sandbags and barbed wire.

The ceremony begins with O Canada, and leads to a minute of silence at 11 a.m., with the presentation of wreaths to follow. Unique wreaths are created for this event from natural boughs.

As always, everyone is invited to a time of warm food and warm fellowship at the nearby West Colchester Consolidated School after the ceremony. The Veterans Memorial Park welcomes all who wish to remember and give thanks for the service and sacrifices of so many Canadians.

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