Pictou Advocate: Take a ‘Sentimental Journey’ through the war years

By November 2, 2016Remember

Remember the sacrifice, remember the fear, remember the strength and courage. Remember.

This Remembrance Day, take some time to reflect and thank those veterans who are still with us for the sacrifices they made when they served their country during the war years.

Sandy Mackay shares his thanks by means of A Sentimental Journey, a production tak­ing the audience through the war years.

“We perform songs that were popular dur­ing the First and Second World Wars,” says Mackay. “The songs are interspersed with news reports of the Canadian Armed Forces in Europe from the declaration of war until the final battle in Europe.”

A Sentimental Journey began in 1998 and has been performed at Summer Street Industries the last four years.

“It started in large part as a response to a conversation I had with a friend… while returning from a Remembrance Day ser­vice,” explains Mackay. “I asked him what he was doing in August 1945 and he said he was preparing to go to the Pacific. We have a very Euro-centric view of the war here because that’s where most of the guys from here were.”

Bob Bennett, executive director for Summer Street Industries says, “It’s a very powerful show. I look forward to seeing it each year. Sometimes it’s sad, but mostly happy.”

Mackay says the production – which includes six performers – is mostly the same each year with the addition or subtraction of a song or two each year.

“We do as much as we can to make it entertaining,” he says.

Mackay notes the audience is what has changed over the years.

“The show has really developed a life of its own. At first it was mostly veterans in the audience, now it’s a good mix.”

He notes a friend told him the songs in the performance are almost like Christmas songs; they are seasonal and come out this time of year for the show.

Bennett says, “It’s fantastic talent. You can see the audience going back in their memo­ries and singing along with the show. For those who didn’t live through that era, it’s an opportunity to experience what your grand­parents (or great-grandparents) went through. It’s simply wonderful. It’s no secret if things didn’t turn out the way they did, we would be living in a different society and people with disabilities wouldn’t be living their lives the way they do and we are sensi­tive to that… (society) wouldn’t be as inclu­sive or open minded as we are.”

He says the reason Summer Street Industries exists is to create opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities through support from the people of Pictou County.

“None of this would have happened if it were not for the brave people who made sure all people, including people with disabilities, would live in a free society that believes in the individuality of all people.”

A Sentimental Journey is set on the back­drop of a newsroom in a radio station.

“From the audience perspective, it’s very much what it would have been like sitting around the radio at home waiting for news,” says Bennett.

The production is free of charge to anyone who wants to take it in. In the past there has been a charge, but Bennett says it’s for people to enjoy, for those to whom we owe so much.

“It’s for veterans and those who support veterans and our way of saying we remem­ber and we thank you.”

Donations will be accepted, but Bennett says they are not required and he does not want that to be the reason someone doesn’t attend.

A Sentimental Journey takes place Monday, November 9 at 7 p.m. at Summer Street Industries and includes cast members John Spyder Macdonald, Marj Macdonald, Sandy Mackay, Rhonda Brown, Greg MacDonald and Ron MacDonald (co-creator of the production with Mackay).

“In our case,” says Mackay, “it’s payback and remembrance. It’s a way to say thank you and look back and observe a moment of silence… These guys were everyday average guys who loved their country and this is our way of expressing gratitude.”

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