Always remembered - The Village of Maryfield has found a unique way to pay tribute to and memorialize 70 of their veterans by hanging signs from light poles in Maryfield and Fairlight.

So often our memories of the people that made a difference in our lives are brought back to us by a certain object. It might be a particular object that you saw that person using every day. Or maybe it is a certain gift that person gave you or a photograph of a moment that you shared with them. Such ‘tokens of remembrance’ help us to hold on to our memories of people that we have cherished…and lost.
But…how do you remember somebody that you never knew? How do you understand experiences that you have never lived? This is the challenge that Remembrance Day sets before us.
Certainly, the poppy that John McCrae gave to a war-weary world in his stirring poem In Flanders Fields continues to evoke powerful response among Canadians of all ages.
But as time passes, it becomes increasingly difficult for younger Canadians to comprehend the sacrifices made by our veterans in the past…and by our members of the Armed Forces now.
The Village of Maryfield has found a unique way to meet this challenge.
Last Friday, a large crowd gathered in Maryfield for the Official Unveiling of signs that have been erected both in that community and in Fairlight to honor local veterans.
Rob Hill (Maryfield District Lions Club) says that the idea for the signs came after he was told of a similar project that had happened in another community.
“My son lives in Saskatoon. He happened to be driving through Watrous one afternoon and saw signs that had been put up to honour veterans. He phoned me and told me about what he’d seen. We both thought that this was a really good idea.
“I brought the idea to our local Lions Club and we talked about it. The club felt it was something that might be good to do here as well…and we decided to go ahead with it.”
Hill goes on to explain that the project received tremendous support from family members of veterans as well as individuals and businesses in the community.
“The signs cost about $225 each. We received a $5,000 grant from Veterans Affairs, which helped to cover some of the costs. We also contacted as many family members of veterans as possible and asked if they could help…which many did.
“But a lot of this came about because of volunteers that stepped up to make it happen. Clint Radke (Clint Radke Welding) and his crew built the frames for the signs. The only cost was the materials…all of the time spent doing it was donated. Darrel Rathgeber (D & D Auto Body) sandblasted and painted the frames. Laura Low (Endless Creations) designed and printed the signs. Doug Down came out with his skid steer and spent a long day working with a group of volunteers to put the signs up. We’ve had also various groups and businesses volunteering time and helping today’s event.
“This really was a community effort.”
Hill notes that the project grew to include other communities also.
“When we started with this project, people came forward from Fairlight and asked how their veterans could be included as well. So, of the 70 veterans that we’ve honored, 12 have their signs displayed in Fairlight. Those are the veterans from that community and the other small towns that were around Fairlight as well.
In his speech to the crowd attending the event, Hill pointed out that the veterans being honored that day…had lived at a time when the true cost of their service had not been well understood.
“Things were different during the years that these veterans served. I quote from the book Guilty by David Baldcci:
They didn’t have the term PTSD back then. But what those boys saw and did…nothing prepared them for it. It changed them forever, and not in a good way. The soldiers who fought in wars never talked about what they saw or did. They were expected to go back to their civilian lives and carry on like the hell of war had never even happened. They were supposed to hit the ‘reset’ button. And they did…with varying degrees of success…or failure.
95-year-old Jim Clark, a veteran of WWII, was an honored guest at the ceremony. He remembered impact that the war had on people that he’d grown up with.
“Some of the ones who went to war…they never came back. And some of the ones who did come back…well…you wouldn’t know them.
It changed them.
My wife’s brother, when he came back, he had dreams, bad dreams, for years.
Nobody who came back from the war was the same person they were when they went.”
Barbara Dennis helped Jim Clark attend the ceremony…and says that she hopes that the signs will help make the war “real” for those who see them.
“When I was in school, all we ever heard were the names of the people who were in the wars. When you’re a child…what do names really mean to you?
But I’ve found that people reach a point in their lives when names and dates start to make sense.
You might see the name of someone who was killed in the war and think, ‘He was only 19…and I’m 25’.
Or maybe it’s ‘He was only 19…and I’m 44’.
People might reach that point at a different time in their lives.
But I think everybody gets there.
Maybe these signs will help somebody reach that point…and understand a bit better.”
Among the dignitaries who attended the Official Unveiling Ceremony was Master Corporal Crystal Veysey. Master Corporal Vesey was there to represent those currently serving in the Canadian Armed Forces…and says she was deeply moved to see the memorial that the people in her hometown had created.
“I joined the Armed Forces because I wanted to make a difference…both for Canadians…and for those in other countries struggling to gain the kind of freedoms and rights that our veterans fought for.
When I was growing up, I remember taking part in the Remembrance Day Services at school and in the community. I remember writing essays and creating posters for the Legion Contest. Kids can still be involved in these kinds of things now. But a lot has changed…particularly since Covid.
It is so important that we help our children understand and remember what our veterans did…so that they could grow up in a free country. As time passes…there is a real danger that the true meaning of Remembrance Day could be lost.
That’s why I think this is wonderful. People will be able to see these signs and be reminded of the sacrifice our veterans made…as they’re going about their everyday business.
I grew up in Maryfield. Even though I haven’t been back here for a long time…this is still home. And right now…I can’t tell you how proud I am to call this community ‘home’!”

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